There are some old tried and true axioms like bad news sells, crisis creates action, and you can always find consensus around cynicism. Cattlemen are by very nature, optimists. A prayer and a hope usually are sufficient to move forward with. At the same time, if you get two or more cattlemen together, it’s more than likely we are sharing stories about the latest wreck, management mistake or discussing how bad the market, the weather or the government is.
We are guilty of spending a lot of time discussing the problems versus talking through the discussions. If we were to analyze the amount of time spent on strengths and opportunities versus weaknesses and threats, I’m guessing our SWOT analysis would be pretty lopsided towards the negative side of the equation.
I’m as guilty as anyone on this front. We have seen the world become increasingly cynical and negative. We used to have an optimistic viewpoint when it came to believing that science and technology could and would change the world for the better. The media was an important counter balance, and while government will always be fraught with inefficiency and corruption it was seen as a valuable, necessary and a workable option. Politics in general was a dirty, but necessary, business. Unfortunately, our outlook has changed and this cynicism is not only real, but it must be factored into our assessment of the current environment.
This negativity has changed the basic environment in which we operate. Capitalism in general is no longer looked at in a favorable light by a large and growing section of our population. Even agriculture and ranching in general is looked at with growing skepticism. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that modern agriculture is perceived to be as much of the problem as the solution in today’s environment.
With that said, I believe it is a prime time for a message of hope and optimism. Not only to renew our faith in institutions and long-standing values, but to challenge the conventional wisdom that the focus should be on our threats rather than on opportunities.
Elon Musk, entrepreneur, has a tremendous line that describes the current state of affairs. It characterizes the environment as one searching for and finding subpar compromises. That is why it is time to move away from a cynical worldview to a more positive outlook where we are maximizing value, and changing the world.