“ The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” – Seth Godin
I’m usually not big on using quotes. I prefer putting things into my own words. However, this certain quote emphasizes an aspect of leadership that I see as the most vital. As I tend to do quite often, I’ll explain with a story.
There are certain memories that stick out more than others. Certain things that make you smile especially hard whenever they cross your mind. Buddy the bottle calf is that type of memory. At age 4, I wasn’t much help with washing show calves or mixing feed, but I could sure spend hours loving on a sweet little bull calf that didn’t have a momma. I think I spent more time in the stall with Buddy than I did with my parents for a few months; I was enthralled by the fact that he followed me around just as much as I followed him. I talked about him constantly; to Mom and Dad, to my friends, and to any unsuspecting soul who made the unfortunate decision of asking if I had any “pets”. Whenever Mom and Dad vetoed my brilliant plan to have Buddy sleep in my room, I dug my favorite Schleigh Angus calf figurine out of the toy box and relocated it to my nightstand so I could give it a kiss before Mom and Dad tucked me into bed every night.
Twelve years later, I still can’t deny the child-like excitement I experience whenever I’m immersed in agriculture-related activities. The passion I had for the livestock industry when I was 4 has only grown more vigorous since then. While this may not seem to be very monumental, I’m confident that my love for this industry is the single most important factor that has shaped me into the leader I am today. I agree that other factors can lend a hand to forming our leadership capabilities, but we’ll never truly feel fulfilled in our purpose unless we have that unquenchable passion to drive us. People recognize fire in a leader. They notice the ones who love their purpose so deeply that they can’t comprehend a life without it, and they’re drawn to them. This is the kind of leader I strive to be; the kind who motivates, inspires, and sparks that same fire in those who are watching.
I believe that agriculture instilled in me the core values that comprise who I am as a person, and I know that many others raised in this industry can say the same. For this reason and many others, agriculture is worth preserving for future generations. In a society that loves to criticize and mold ideals to fit its standards, it’s crucial that we know what we’re leading for in order to stay true to our purpose. I’m leading for the little girl who loved her Buddy and thought the whole world should know it. I’m leading for my future kids, who I hope will enjoy the same opportunities that I have. Most importantly, I’m leading for our industry, which has given me the priceless gifts of a passion and a purpose that have allowed me to paint a picture of my future.