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What Kind of Legacy will you Leave Behind?

Al Bennett
Grain, Dairy, Swine, Beef, Timber, Young, Beginning Farmers, Specialty Industries, Investing in Rural Communities
Home > Education & Events > November 2017 > What Kind of Legacy will you Leave Behind?

We are privileged to be a part of American agriculture, and opportunities for success lie ahead for those with staying power.

In the recent past, I have had the honor to work with some of the best agriculture producers in the business and gain insights as to how they achieve and measure success. In this article, I offer a few of the lessons they shared.

First, success means far more than bottom-line “profit” in any given year. While some producers may use different tools to measure their outcomes, they all use multiple approaches to assess their personal performance:
  • Without exception, they all exhibit a passion for the work they do and seem to have fun doing it, even when the going gets tough.
  • They commit to constant improvement and network with the best, while continuously asking valuable questions to gain insights they would not have otherwise have.
  • They are students of research and digest data that really matters, while implementing new practices and embracing change.  
  • The three “C’s” of courage, conviction, and commitment are part of their personal brand. 
  • As leaders, they invest in their people and take great pride in developing others. 
  • They are great listeners and demonstrate a sincere interest in others. 
  • They resist the temptation to judge prematurely and are extremely careful with their words before reacting emotionally. 
  • They view failure as an opportunity to learn. 
  • At the end of the day, providing value and serving others is the fuel that propels them forward. 
Beyond these foundational characteristics, there are additional areas they focus on when describing success and questions they ask themselves, including:
  • What is within their circle of control and where should they invest their time? 
  • How are they actively working to improve as a partner to their spouse, a parent to their children, a steward of the environment, and a member of their community?
  • What steps are they taking to protect their personal health, financial, spiritual, and mental well-being, including choices around diet and exercise? 
  • How do they spend their time and how well do their activities align with their mission, vision, personal goals, and core values?
Given the questions above as a baseline and turning the attention inward, I would offer the following challenge for your consideration:
Let’s imagine you’ve lived a fulfilling, rewarding life and it is now your eightieth birthday. Many of the people you love are there to celebrate with you and pay you tribute. There are people from your personal and professional life, friends and neighbors from the community, your spouse and children. They have been asked not to bring gifts but instead to say a few words about their experiences shared with you. What would you imagine them to say? In other words, what do you want to be remembered for?
Document what you would hope to hear, consider how you show up today, and be honest with yourself about the probability of being remembered as you hope. If the gaps are considerable, consider what adjustments you might make and what lessons for success you might implement to ensure a different type of experience at your eightieth birthday party. How will you best navigate the pursuit of happiness? What will you do today to build lasting memories that become part of your legacy?
May the lessons we have learned propel us toward being the best that we can be in the future.
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