One of the books that changed the way I look at the world was “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, which examines the factors that create success. One of his points was that to become truly proficient at a skill, you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. I believe this to be the case, but that level of commitment also means that only a select few will ever become excellent at even one thing.

So, what does that mean for people in businesses like ranching, where folks are expected to have expertise in as many as 10 fields? It means we will have to rely heavily on outside experts, and hone our ability to ask the right question.

Albert Einstein once said that if he had an hour to solve a problem and his life depended on the solution, he’d spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask. “For once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes,” he explained.

If I’m to be honest with myself, I’d have to say that, as a manager, I’ve often spent too much time coming up with solutions to problems, and too little time analyzing the problem and framing it in a way that ensures that I’m focused on finding the solution to the right problem.