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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Aug 9, 2018

In the fall of 2000, Mickey Pfleger was starting his third decade as a sports photographer. Not once in hundreds of hours on NFL sidelines had he been even touched by a player. Then at the 49ers/Chiefs game he was drilled by a Kansas City tight end, knocking Mickey unconscious...Potentially a very bad event. We’ll catch back up with Mickey later on to see how that turned out.

In the moment, we have a tendency to make snap judgments, labeling things and situations as “bad” or “good” with very little deliberation. When we’re leaders, this irrational behavior can easily carry over to our teams.

Warren Buffet famously said it was wise to be, “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” It’s worked out pretty well for him, but the brain’s natural wiring sometimes works against us. When we’re fearful, the “Fight or Flight” response kicks in as our bodies are flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, making rational decision-making difficult. On the flip side, when we are joyful, we’re being inundated with dopamine and endorphins. This can cause us to miss something important simply because we’re “on Cloud Nine” and feeling like everything’s great.

A leader’s role requires making decisions; that means managing one’s emotions and maintaining perspective when one is in “the heat of the moment.”

Sure, it looks bad, but...
An employee quits; you get a flat tire; the business is struggling to stay in the black; you get clobbered by a speeding football player when you least expect it (nope, we’re not going back to Mickey quite yet—but I haven’t forgotten about him)...the fear we face in these situations can lead quickly to victim thinking and a self-fulfilling feeling of powerlessness. That’s where this maintaining of perspective comes in. Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion keeps things in perspective: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That means perspective is equally important when things seem to be going great.

So, back to Mickey’s story: Things looked quite bleak for Mickey. He was knocked unconscious and underwent an MRI to evaluate his concussion. Through this evaluation, doctors discovered something unexpected—a brain tumor. There were many sides to this coin: getting your brain concussed by a runaway tight end, bad; early detection of a brain tumor, good; being diagnosed with a brain tumor though...decidedly bad.

Maybe your employee leaves, and initially it looks bad. Maybe, though, that departure makes room for an even better employee. So you’re struggling financially. That’s bad, right? But it forces you to make budget cuts, run a tighter ship, and trade irresponsible processes for healthy ones—improving your business and financial skills along the way. Seems like we have a tendency to measure good and bad on too short a time frame.

Keep this in mind when you encounter “good” or “bad” events:

  • Know yourself. Examine your own tendencies and patterns. Does pessimism keep you from seeing opportunities? Does optimism blind you to risks?
  • Plan ahead. Visualize the response you should have when “good” or “bad” things happen. Stay sharp. Mental rehearsal helps us act quickly.
  • Ask different questions: “With this change, what opportunities might there be?” “How will I look back on this in a year?” “What impact will this have on our industry?” Different questions trigger different thinking and helps give new perspectives to a situation.

Thanks for listening! Do you have any questions or comments on this or any of our other episodes? I’d love to hear them. Send me an email at and I will respond as soon as possible. I really appreciate hearing from our listeners. Keep those comments and suggestions coming in. Until next week...