In the last couple of weeks, I’ve finally had the opportunity to leave the ranch, ditch virtual meetings and gather with like-minded people at agricultural events across the country.
At the end of January, I spoke in person at the U.S. Custom Harvesters meeting. While there, I visited with fellow agricultural entrepreneurs, farmers, small business owners, agricultural company sales reps — all who are facing similar struggles and grappling with the same fears I have, following the past year’s pandemic and a political landscape that is swiftly shifting the very foundations we have built our businesses on with each passing day.
While there, I also visited with the convention center staff, and many expressed their intense gratitude that our meeting had gone on as scheduled. One staff member revealed to me that he had been out of work since March 2020 when the pandemic hit, and this conference was the very first to be held since the coronavirus hit the United States.
Additionally, many of you know I traveled to Kansas last weekend to celebrate the life of my mentor, friend and bonus Grandpa, Bill Broadie. In case you missed my tribute blog to him, you can read it here. Broadie was a two-time Purple Heart Marine who served in Vietnam. He was also a Kansas cattleman and a rep for Superior Livestock Auction.
He was also the founder of the All-American Beef Battalion, a non-profit organization that has served 418,000 steaks in 28 states to the troops and their families as a way to say, “thank you.”
Needless to say, it was no surprise that this inspirational, influential and incredible man had a stadium full of people attending his funeral. One of Bill’s greatest gifts was bringing people together, and as we gathered to pray, cry, laugh and eat a steak dinner served by the Battalion that day, I again noticed the strain, worry, anxiety and fears that have gripped our community in light of recent events, executive orders and actions outside of our control that will impact our lives in the months to come.
And I think no matter where you go — from the oil fields in Texas, to a classroom in Wisconsin, to a hospital in New York, to a small business in main street America — there are many people right now who are struggling to pay the bills, keep their jobs, take care of their families and stay happy and healthy themselves. The past 12 months have been trying for even the strongest of people, and I have been thinking a lot about what we can do to positively change our outlook in the months ahead.
So today, I want to share five action items that may help. Some are small changes and others are tall orders, but I believe if we focus on the things we can control, our families, our businesses, our health and our relationships in this community will be so much stronger, despite the external turmoil that exists around us.
In the days, weeks and months ahead, consider the following to change your outcome and your outlook:
1. Unplug — In the age of extreme censorship and demands of conformity, I believe many social media platforms have gotten to be a toxic place where seeds of division, hatred and polarization are encouraged. Reclaim your power and your peace by limiting your time spent on these platforms. Also, be mindful of the media sources and entertainment that you consume, as they can also impact your mental health.
2. Recharge — What recharges your batteries after a hard day? Is it more family time? Quiet time outside on the ranch? Reading time? Studying the Bible? Going to bed early? Taking a vacation? Going to a movie or out to eat in town? Whatever you can do to promote a good mood and positive relationships with your family and loved ones, make that a focus in 2021.
Trust me, I know you have work to do, bills to pay and problems to sort through. It’s hard to give yourself permission to slow down and recharge. I battle this myself, but you can’t keep running on empty and expecting positive outcomes. It’s okay to give yourself permission to do something to promote wellness in your life.
3. Dare to dream— When the going gets tough, it’s often my default to zero in on the problem with laser focus and think of nothing else. If the days ahead look overwhelming, scary and difficult, we can get so consumed with those issues that face us, and we can forget to think about the big picture and our long-term goals.
Take a minute to sit down with your spouse, your family and your business partners, and create a vision for the future. Yes, there will be hurdles. Yes, there will be roadblocks. Yes, there will be difficult days that could derail our best dreams. But, if we fail to dream, we could lose sight of our passions, our visions and the reasons we got into this business in the first place. Dare to dream. Prepare for challenges. And find a way to match the two into concrete action items you can do each day to continue to move forward.
4. Get engaged — Now is not the time to press pause on your civic engagement. At home in South Dakota, our legislature is busy considering many bills that would directly impact my family, our ranch, our health, our public schools and more. Likewise, the same is happening in Washington, D.C. We must continue to study the issues, get engaged, work with our networks, provide letters and testimony. Also write and call our elected officials and be part of the process to ensure how our local, state and national leaders shape our communities.
5. Reach out — Chances are, if you’re struggling or having a tough go, someone else is in the same boat. We truly are all in this together, and the best thing we can do to help each other through hard times is to pick up the phone and reach out to a friend, peer, old acquaintance or even new connections in our life. A simple phone call to check in and see how someone is doing can help remind that person and ourselves that we don’t have to walk through challenging times alone.
What else would you add to this list? My goal in 2021 is to be a helpful resource to assist farm and ranch families in working toward positive outcomes, in connecting with consumers by sharing our agricultural stories and to encourage all of us to work together in a way that builds people up instead of tearing them down. Any resources, tips or topics are welcome! Please, email them to me at [email protected] Thank you!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.