I hope you're excited about 2008. I certainly am. I'm not talking about growth in export markets, domestic demand increases, or a continued shift away from commodity to value-added beef production. While those are certainly all good things, the reality is that the cattle business has and always will be ultra competitive. Some people will prosper in the worst of times; some will struggle in the best of times.
I'm guessing most of you are 100% committed to the cattle business, whatever it might bring. Unlike many businesses, being a cattleman isn't a job, it's part of who you are. So with that said, all the economic discussion is in some ways peripheral to whether we can consider '08 a success or not.
Passion is truly the key. It's true that we're blessed with the gift of being able to call ourselves ranchers and have the job of feeding God's children. But at the same time, I know there are many ranchers who ended up 2007 with a lack of fulfillment, connection and meaning. They tell me they're tired, frustrated and generally have an empty feeling inside. They're not finding the joy in this business.
Let's make 2008 the end of this injustice! If it's your dad, brother or spouse, it may be difficult to eliminate those sources of negativity, but one should try. There are groups that dispense fear, scarcity and doubt about the future of this industry; look for those that pursue hope and abundance. Attitude matters. Ghandi said we should become the change we wish to see in the world.
In the movie, "Gladiator," there was a line that really sums things up well: "What we do in life, echoes through eternity." I love that line because it defines how important our actions are in shaping a better future.
Zig Ziglar says, "You can get everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want in life." That seems to be the key to almost all the wisdom from successful people in the past. Focus not on yourself but on others; focus not on the negative but on the positive, pursuing something bigger than yourself. It really is simple -- solve someone else's problems, create value for others, do the simple things and do them consistently, and you soon differentiate yourself in a major way.
I'm always amazed at how successful the people were who were involved in forward looking cattle organizations. But I always thought it was their success that allowed them to be involved. I'm now realizing that it is their focus on things other themselves that allowed them to be successful in the first place.
My suggestion to everyone is to embrace 2008 with the passion it deserves. Strive every day to get a little bit better in some way. And never forget that what we do in life echoes through eternity. Make 2008 not only a passion but an obsession, a year when we grow and develop every day.