Former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and Waipu farmer Simon Couper looks at the strategies of Fonterra's competitors to see how the co-op can strengthen its own strategies.
Most farmers have a tractor, some have a truck, most have a quad or side-by-side. There may be the farm bike or ute in the mix, also a whole range of tools: the chainsaws and the post-hole borer, to name a couple, the lawn mowers, of course, plus all the battery-operated hand tools.
Batteries have to be charged or fuelled-up regularly. Checking or watching fuel gauges is as natural as breathing to us. You would have noticed, I’m sure, absolutely nothing seems to operate well on empty! Trying to force it to or getting furious with your quad and giving it a kick will definitely prove to be a rather senseless exercise.
Now, should you happen to have an employee who never deems it necessary to recharge or refuel anything, no doubt you will run out of patience real fast. He or she will be your former employee shortly! It’s such a basic, right? The ABC’s of life.
Don’t you think it’s rather odd then, that we do all of the above so effortlessly and so well, yet many of us bomb out rather badly when it comes to looking after ourselves. That’s right, we don’t make time to pull out of the fast lane and refuel … all the “gauges” have been reading empty for too long!
Consider for a moment, we humans have a body, a soul and a spirit. Most refuel the body several times a day. Apart from fluids, there’s brekky, lunch, and then the evening meal – with a couple of smokos added in. Often that’s not enough, we have supper to finish!
While the fuel may not always be as good as it should be, we nonetheless make time through our day to put fuel in our physical tanks. Yes, we can tick that box.
With the soul, the mind, will and emotions, too often we don’t do so well. The mental gauges read empty and the chime is going off. However, we tend to ignore all that to keep up our “foot to the floor” schedule.
I am sure you will have heard the term “burning the candle at both ends”. Well some have taken that to a whole new level; they have broken the candle in half and are burning it at all four ends! The end results for that one ought to be obvious!
Sadly, the spirit seems to get neglected even more so. Honestly, we cannot tick that box! Inner strength, fortitude and resilience, all flow from here. Inner freshness and yes peace, all come from here as well. Inner peace is truly a most wonderful thing!
The difference between calm still waters compared to roiling or boiling waters is the picture here. That inner boiling waters thing will affect your physical and mental health and well-being, seriously too, if it is not addressed. Your key relationships will take a hammering as well.
We know running on empty simply doesn’t work for our vehicles and tools. Trust me, ultimately it doesn’t work for us humans either.
Take some time out, some hours off the farm. Find some activity you can get involved with where you enjoy it enough it gets your attention and gets your mind off the farm. A hobby can help. Even simple things like a weekend away with friends can be refreshing.
For the spiritual one, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. And ask someone who knows what they are talking about. You do that for the farm; do that for you as well! I have found it to be the most important of the three by far.