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Focus your time on what you can change

It is hard to find an ounce of optimism in the cattle industry today. Everywhere I go and almost every producer I talk to, all I seem to hear is negativity. The older generation is selling out, the younger generation is giving up or moving on. We can complain about the weather, the markets, or the economy. They are all factors in our businesses but they are not within our control.

I have learned that there are only three things in life you can control, your thoughts, your feelings and your actions, nothing else. This small circle represents your area of control. Outside this circle is your circle of influence. This represents the areas in your life that you can influence the outcome. There is a third circle that is way larger than the other two. This represents all the areas in your life that you have no control over: the weather, the government, others around you.

We choose our own thoughts. We can choose to think positive or we can choose to think negative. I am a much happier individual if I choose to think about the blessings in my life. I may have some obstacles to overcome and some issues that need attention, but I know I can deal with them and keep moving forward. My thoughts remain positive and I avoid anyone that deals out negative thoughts. Stay away from the coffee shop, sad country songs and whiners. Seek out positive-minded individuals and feed off one another’s excitement for life. Remove the word “can’t” from your vocabulary.

My family is the most important part of my life and it continues to keep a bounce in my step. I have some great friends that I know will always be there for me. The reason I know this is because they have proved it. I strive to live up to the life lessons I am instilling in my children. My five-year-old will tell you “to have a good friend, you have to be a good friend.”

We can choose our own feelings. There is a famous line from one of my favourite movies, “Acuna Matata.” It means no worries. And it is a great motto! When my daughter is sad and the little things in life are getting her down, I simply ask her where my happy girl went? A big smile comes across her face and the tears fade away. She is nine and she can already control her feelings when she wants to. You can choose positive feelings even when things are not going your way. The key is to always look at what the bad times can teach us. I do not make mistakes; I have experiences that did not turn out as expected. I always look forward and think about how to improve on the experiences I’ve had.

You can also control your own actions. How you respond to the events and people in your life has a huge influence on your outcome. You can control this. Do you “think and respond” or do you simply react? Good communication is one of the most important skills in life. In your personal life and in your business, it is your opportunity with every interaction, to improve your relationships. What can you do today in your interactions with other people to improve your relationships?

If I can lead by example by showing good morals and values to my children, I can influence their future. Can I teach them the life skills they need to be successful through modelling? The phrase, “I want to be just like you, Dad!” echoes in my ears.

I can also influence the people around me. This could be positive or negative. Can my thoughts, feelings and actions influence how others respond or react to me? I am unable to control how someone else reacts to a given situation, but I can influence them with how I react. If I can articulate my thoughts well enough and put them down on paper, I might even influence you in a small way through this article. How would you like people to respond to you?

I believe the reason a lot of people get negative feelings all the time is because they spend too much time worrying about the big circle. The big circle has the most “stuff” in it and we seem to be attracted to dwell on all the things in life that we have no control over. I need to be aware of what takes place in this circle as it may help me form and make decisions, but I do not want to use up all my time stressing over this area. Don’t waste time worrying about the big circle. Life is too short.

Here’s the secret to the three circles. The more time you spend within your circle of control, working on your own thoughts, feelings and actions, the bigger your circle of influence gets. Positive thoughts are contagious and your good feelings are addictive.

When it comes to the cattle industry, let’s focus on what we can control. There are farms out here that are making a profit. It is your business and you are the manager. You can improve the profitability in your business. Increase that margin. You can do it. Now is the time to make some breakthrough changes in your operation. Improve your marketing. Increase your knowledge. Lower your costs. Work on your communication skills. You have control of these things so spend your time focusing on the little circle.

I am excited about where this industry can go. Let’s use the learning experiences we have had and make the most of this year. Repeat after me! This is going to be the best year ever!

Steve Kenyon runs Greener Pastures Grazing Management in Busby, Alta.,,780-307-6500, email[email protected]

About the author


Steve Kenyon runs Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd. in Busby, Alta. You can email him at [email protected] or call 780-307-6500.

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