“Let’s just throw the ball as far away as we can and try and get to it”

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Posted by Brendon Walsh on 6 July 2017

Team NZ win

Well done Emirates Team NZ on brilliantly taking out the America’s Cup sailing match! Like most kiwis, I am in awe of your efforts and achievements, not to mention very proud to be a kiwi! You really showed how to do what it takes under huge pressure. Just like the Rugby World Cup wins of 1987, 2011 and 2015 the country rejoices, but just like after those occasions (and as expressed in a blog some time ago) I am fearful that the incredible lessons inherent in these achievements may be lost on our sheep and beef farming industry.

I say that not because we are all a bunch of idiots (we are not), but because often we focus on the surface actions and not the underlying principles that drove those results. If we miss those, then we miss the real opportunities that these celebrated achievements offer up to us. Success does leave clues, and they are all around us, all the time. The key is whether or not we choose to be aware of them and whether or not we view great achievements as being full of transferable lessons. 

The recent win by Team NZ has a ton of great and directly applicable lessons. As we go through some of these, ask yourself “How can I apply that in my farm business?” or “How can my farmer clients apply that in their farm businesses?” Honesty and objectivity in this questioning are no-brainers if we want to get value from the exercise.

One of the most pertinent lessons for me was after the final race when Grant Dalton (Team NZ CEO) revealed how 4 years ago he and another Team NZ member had a meeting and he said, “Let's just throw the ball as far away as we can this time and try and get to it.” In other words, they envisioned how they might need to be to win the cup, beyond everything they knew then, and then they set about creating that reality. Funnily enough that formula delivered, and it delivered well over and above what Team Oracle USA could do. They didn’t sit there constrained by what they knew then, stepping out just a little by dipping their toes in the water. They seriously considered how they would need to change and what would be required to achieve that which was most important to them - winning the America’s Cup! From there, they fully committed to getting it done!

Sound familiar? All Blacks, NZ Rowers, highly successful NZ businesses and business people, the singer Lorde - the list goes on.

How can sheep and beef farmers apply this in their situations? Simply ask the question with honesty, an open mind, objectivity and a genuine desire to find the answers - they will begin to appear. We may not have all the answers immediately but that is the whole point - search for them beyond what we know now. Anyone can do this if they really want to. So, the question probably becomes, “Do I really want to?” This is something that farmers must become genuinely clear on right from the start. By genuinely clear I mean identifying what’s most important to them and actively engaging themselves in moving towards that. Opportunities tend to appear when we are fully committed to achieving what is most important to us.

If sheep and beef farmers just focus on the surface actions they will likely stay exactly as they are. For example, if the identified surface actions were to get a few million dollars, relocate your business to a foreign environment, sail fast, put expensive dagger boards in the boat and cross the line first more times than your opponent, it is likely that any necessary changes in their own minds and businesses would appear too hard and too expensive. Few changes would occur.

But, if the focus was on questions such as, “What do we really want to achieve?”, “What does throwing the ball as far away as we can look like?”, “What people roles do we need in our business to achieve that?”, “How can we source the resources and learning we need?” and “How can we achieve big without the resources of the world’s biggest software company behind us?”, the pathway forward would probably be quite different.

What about the fact that Team NZ took calculated risks, engaged specialists who gave their best help and their all through thick and thin, stuck to their dream in the face of criticism from others who had no idea, set up governance people who fully believed in the goal, 100% backed themselves to find the answers, the design and the materials they needed, and kept looking for improvement every day in everything? Are those principles that sheep and beef farmers could tailor for their own goals and businesses? You bet they are!

Emirates Team NZ are full of passionate kiwis who count themselves as “normal” and who got focused on what they really wanted. Isn’t it funny how farmers like to think of themselves in the same way? We all have the seeds of greatness - let’s get focussed on what is most important and do what it takes because it is most important. Team NZ didn’t sit there and whinge about the lack of this and that - they got busy and did what it took. You can too!

If you are curious about how the GrowFARM® System can help sheep and beef farmers generate the profits they really want, contact me here.

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  • Well done to Emirates Team NZ they beat Team GB in the semis but we hope there will be be revenge by the Lions on Saturday!!!!! Been a good a lift to the NZ economy having the sea of red on your shores.
    Brendon it's good of you to send your blogs - always find them very interesting. There are a lot of similarities in your farming pressures to our own, the world markets dominate not just the internal country's .The dairy industry has had a torrid 18 months but seems to be pulling back now, only not enough to encourage any decent investment.We are still plagued with TB outbreaks (currently closed) mainly because the government were too slow in bringing in a badger cull, so the trouble its now migrated into other species e.g. Deer.

    Posted by Stuart and Sally Ham, 11/07/2017 2:00pm (2 years ago)

  • In some ways it's an age thing, and there are apparently many sheep and beef farmers of increasing age (including me). Often it's a matter of comparing the effort required to the energy available. So maybe we need to start small, and keep patting ourselves on the back for the changes we do achieve, based on them being small parts of a bigger ambition, rather than aiming for huge change and not being able to find the starting block.

    Posted by Sue Edmonds, 07/07/2017 8:56am (2 years ago)

  • 2 years ago we threw the ball, but most importantly we joined the GrowFARM team at the same time. The tools and systems guided as to success. We learned to lift the roof on our expectations of what we could achieve! If you feel like you have been throwing the ball only to have it bounce back at you just as we did, get in contact with the GrowFARM team and get the support to lift the roof. And throw that ball!

    Posted by Melissa Bradley, 07/07/2017 8:53am (2 years ago)