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The Challenge Of Change

Ideally, farming is a holistic system of working with a range of supporting systems and environmental conditions. The awareness and importance of working in unison with these systems is becoming increasingly well known each day. We have mentioned the importance of balance in our environment on the page Why are they Superior?.

However, one of the main parts of that system is often neglected and in many cases not even considered as part of that system. That part, of course, is the owner/manager. If, and when, the manager is considered, it is usually in the context of their external system i.e. the system that is easily visible to others and made up of parts such as family, friends, business associates, work, service organisations, sporting interests etc. When changes or losses occur in any of these parts of the external system, they are visible to others who may then understand if the farm management “balance” is affected. Often, the support from other external influences will help assist in overcoming the individual manager’s change in circumstances.

What cannot be seen is the owner/manager’s interior system. By that we are referring to their thoughts and emotions, those things that happen within the mind and body.

At times, these internal activities will manifest in an external action or behaviour that can be recognised or will influence the external system, but often that is not the case.

Very often it is only a manager’s immediate family, and sometimes not even them, who are aware of the changes in a manager’s internal system.

Often the managers themselves cannot, or choose not to, recognise these changes
Often, or generally, the managers themselves cannot, or choose not to, recognise these changes or losses and most importantly, they then cannot see how it effects the bigger system ie. their holistic farm management system. The internal parts usually manifest in the unconscious before coming to conscious awareness and include parts such as confidence, happiness, anger, fear, depression, peace, creativity, guilt, sadness to name but a few. If these parts making up the internal system are ignored, they become out of balance, ill at ease, dis-eased without understanding why. Over 75% of the hospital beds in this country are occupied by people with illnesses and diseases that have an emotional or psychological origin. Often one part will be taking control.

There is no doubt that the level of personal awareness and honesty we have in ourselves will have a direct bearing, not only on the productivity of our holistic farm management system, but also on how comfortable and stress free all our other related parts are as well. In the end, the only person that can really know what the perfect balance is and how to achieve it is you. When everything in the system is working and you are relaxed and comfortable in your environment, the system, then you will have that feeling of total satisfaction and peace within.

When we talk about holistic farm management systems, we cannot leave out the “whole” self. Not only must we not leave out the “whole” self, but we must understand why we cannot leave it out.

When we accept this conclusion, then, and only then, can we justifiably use terms like “holistic farm management” to describe our farm management enterprise.

Change is one of the processes that we often find most threatening in our lives. Whenever it is contemplated, it tends to trigger a number of thoughts and emotions in our internal system. It is important to recognise these as our own and as something that will influence the results of our whole farming business system. Indeed, it is critical in the context of the final decision we make on whether to change our management practices, or not. Getting emotions labelled and understood will have just as much bearing on the success of the change as its practical implementation and continued application. Change, and the degree of change, needs to be carefully assessed in other areas such as economic viability, geographic features and market availability, along with other factors characteristic of individual enterprises.

Change is certainly not something to do just for change sake. However, many of us tend to become entrenched in a "comfort zone" or maybe a rut.

Change is certainly not something to do just for change sake. However, many of us tend to become entrenched in a “comfort zone” or maybe a rut. Not just a financial comfort zone, but a psychological comfort zone, in which it is often increasing financial pressures that drive us deeper into this area. The more something we have been doing is not working, the harder we keep trying to make it work and the worse off we become. Change is an inevitable answer, but rarely the obvious one. Everyone is being forced to be more competitive and this competition is testing long-standing rural friendships and neighbourly ethics of by-gone generations.

Once we become forced into working harder and longer hours to maintain even a meagre existence, our emotions become strangled and decision making often becomes an increasing nightmare on top of all our other problems. This situation of increasing work and business pressure to make more, whether just to survive, or to increase wealth, can become obsessive, even likened to an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

It means that it becomes just as difficult to make changes to a current situation as it does for addicts to give up their need.

If we can recognise, then understand this in our own situations, we are well on the way to being able to make more informed decisions on whether or not change is needed. The most important part of most people’s lives is their families. Often, when we are forced into a cycle of work, work, work, we unconsciously neglect those who are closest to us. How long ago is it since you spent quality time with your family outside a business setting? How long is it since the family went away together or had a holiday together? Is the answer – “No, we can’t afford to leave the property for fear (one of the major emotions in these situations) something may go wrong, or because we just can’t afford to?”

The answers to these questions and others related to current rural situations are really in our own hands as the individuals who can make the commitment to change when it is needed. We hope that you recognise your emotions and use them to help set your future goals. If hard headed business decisions lead to stress and health problems, as they invariably do, then their over all value needs to be questioned. It is important not to lose sight of individuality during the decision making process. Don’t critically analyse yourself to the point of depression. Accept and be aware of your strengths and use them to the advantage of your future personal and business development. To assist you to explore these areas more thoroughly we have two other articles that may assist. One is about becoming consciously aware of our values or in other words, “what is important for me in my whole life, family life, working life etc.” and then putting these values in order of importance. The other is some important questions to ask about developing outcomes and knowing when things are working. We call these ecology checking questions. Both these processes can be done by yourself in your own time and are available by contacting us.

As you work a machine, it requires maintenance and servicing by you, the operator. Similarly, stock and crops need care and nurturing. But who fixes you, the operator, the power plant?

As you work a machine, it requires maintenance and servicing by you, the operator. Similarly, stock and crops need care and nurturing. But who fixes you, the operator, the power plant? You are the hardest to fix if you breakdown and you are really the only one who can fix yourself. An efficient well-serviced self will make the right changes at the right time. Having said this, it is often very difficult to recognise the physical symptoms (stomach feels full of knots, butterflies in the stomach, gnawing aches in the chest, head or stomach, neck and shoulder soreness - to name just a few), for what they are. They are warning signals or red flags for emotional and psychological stress. If these more negative feelings can be recognised and released, more room will be made for positive or satisfying emotions and activities. The other advantage of becoming aware of these signals or triggers is that you can learn to recognise them much earlier in their onset when you are more relaxed about looking at other options. As you become aware of these triggers you can develop choices so that when you recognise the start of one of these less comfortable feelings you have a range of options that you can then select from that will get a different outcome that is better for you.

One thing which helps this is the recognition of individuality. Don’t be “normal”, be natural (or yourself). Just because the neighbours do things one way, or they may have been done that way for years, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes, particularly if you are more comfortable with them. Part of this recognition means asking questions about whether our current farming practices are ensuring the long-term viability of our enterprises. For example, have you seriously considered alternatives to the use of acid fertilisers and chemical sprays in your management strategies? We do have information from practical experience on the implementation of organic practices which compliment our system. Again, though, it is change in which a courage/fear mediation process needs to be used to secure the correct balance so that you believe totally in yourself and your ability to achieve your aims.

We recognise you, the manager/operator, as the most important aspect of your business. What we hope to offer is an opportunity to consider information that we know that if you choose to act on will add value to both personal and business growth and lifestyle.