How do you set your farm on a profitable and exciting trajectory? Surround yourself with smart people, and then give and take.
“It’s critical to seek other winners,” says Danny Klinefelter, professor emeritus and Extension economist at Texas A&M University. “Successful people force you to think differently.”
To challenge yourself, look at joining or creating a like-minded group of innovative and caring people you respect. This could be a peer group or what Mary Kelly, CEO of Productive Leaders, calls a mastermind group.
“A mastermind is a group of people who get together on a regular basis to grow their businesses and to serve as a sounding board for other people’s businesses,” she says.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
A great mastermind group tends to have several traits:
- Trust. Participants can say anything and know the information is not being shared, Kelly says. Klinefelter adds: “For the group to be effective, you have to share details, tell the truth and take criticism. The best groups will challenge you and push you out of your business comfort zone.”
- Transparency Around Failures. “As you test your limits, you have failures,” Kelly says. “Failures in business need to be acknowledged, and in a mastermind group, the lessons learned from the failures are shared so everyone can learn.”
- Motivation. While peers can provide that vote of confidence you need to pursue a new idea, they should also give critical feedback. Be ready to hear advice you might not want to hear, Kelly advises, which is part of testing your ideas.
A peer group can give you a sounding board for ideas, explore “what-ifs,” and provide operations against which you can benchmark your performance, Klinefelter says.
“The best managers I know recognize the importance of networking and the need for continual exposure to different perspectives and new ideas,” he says. “They realize that however well their business is doing, there will always be a better idea or way of doing things.”