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Grit is Future Critical

December 16, 2021

Mindset separates abundance thinkers.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — “Think about where you grew up and then be thankful that God gave that to you because it probably set your mind differently than so many people,” said Tom Field, Paul Engler chair of agribusiness at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “If you live in an agricultural world, you get a chance to see horizons that the average person doesn’t get a chance to see.”

Such a view fosters what Field terms an abundance mindset; for example, being able to see past a drought rather than focus on it. Scarcity thinkers only stare at the parched ground in front of them.

“You are abundance thinkers,” Field said. “You have always been abundance thinkers because you don’t know another way.”

Field was speaking to members of the American Hereford Association (AHA), guests and allied industry partners during an educational forum at the organization’s Annual Membership Meeting and Conference in Kansas City, Mo, Oct. 22, 2021.

Coming out of the pandemic, when some hunkered in place and others kept going, he believes having and creating an abundance mindset will say much about the future of the United States.

Sociologists use the term VUCA to describe the environment, according to Field. VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain times filled with chaos and ambiguity. Pointing to the National Junior Hereford Association board members in attendance, he continued, “They have never lived during a time that wasn’t a VUCA time. They’ve lived with uncertainty their entire lives.” Like their parents, though, they have an abundance mindset.

That takes grit.

“Grit is the dogged pursuit of what we care deeply about, that with meaning and purpose,” Field explained, sharing a dictionary definition. “Not everybody in the world has grit. Our job as blue collar professionals is to absolutely advocate for the demonstration and creation of grit in the next generation, for if we fail this, the republic will fail.”

Grabbing the future

Field and Kevin Ochsner, Agcellerate president, are facilitating the next AHA strategic planning process.

“You’re undertaking a strategic initiative as an organization, and as you think about that, it’s important to remember this quote from management consultant, Tom Peters: ‘From innovation to execution and customer connections, our internal barriers, not our competitor’s cleverness, are the principle impediments to superior performance’” Field said. “We want to grow a business. We don’t ignore the competition, but it’s our own mindset that separates us from growth and stagnation. Talent is part of the foundation. You can’t ignore some level of skill and ability, but at the end of the day, success comes from one thing — the ability to stick with the process, stick with the fight, do the work when it’s easy and when it’s hard.”

Field shared one more thing that should hearten Hereford breeders.

“At a time when resilience is going to matter more in biology than it has for a long time, you happen to have a genetic base of resilient biology, and the industry is going to need it, in my opinion,” Field said.