The power of the pursuit and the people met

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snowy pasture

At the base of the Grand Tetons, mountains dramatically stretching up toward the blue Wyoming sky. Looking out across the Nebraska Sandhills, as the grass waves on for miles and miles. Seeing the sunset over my dad’s Minnesota cornfield in late October, the cool chill of fall and the smell of harvest in the air.

Some times and places just give me a feeling there is something really grand about this world. They have weight. They’re powerful. They are great.

Sometimes that feeling comes with people. If you’ve ever sat around after a funeral, recounting stories of selfless giving and the way a person’s servant leadership shaped a community, then you know what I mean.

When I search my memory, these are the people who enter at pivotal moments: an inspiring teacher; a wise editor; a patient mentor; or faithful friend who changed my life for the better. You probably have your own people who make you want to be more. They are great.

Defining greatness

Kids come home with it scrawled on their spelling papers, “Great job!” The word is simple, and often thrown around causally. “Sounds great!” Or, “It would be great if you could help with this project.” But if you peel it back to its basic definition of “markedly superior in character or quality” it really carries a lot of depth.

Through the years, I’ve been lucky to interview legends in the cattle business, the kind of producers others look up to and seek out for advice. I’ve asked about their goals and dreams and, in hindsight, when they’d felt like they’d “made it.”

Funny thing is, even at the twilight of their career, they have each given me their own version of a knowing chuckle and answer that no, they haven’t yet. They were just thankful for each day they had to keep improving. They live their lives as if being great is not a goal. It is a constant pursuit. I think that’s a worthy track, whether in life or applied to specific areas of business.

“I just want to bring an average set of animals to town,” said no cattleman ever. (Or at least they’ve never said that to me). Selling “fancy” calves, reputation calves or those that top the market? That’s a mark of success, but often not the end all.

Now that you’ve made your cow herd more uniform, better matched to your resources or producing calves that you’re sure fit the bill for the next in line, what’s next? I want you to be able to look at your cattle lined up at the feed bunk and get that feeling. They are great.

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