Monday, April 22, 2024

A certificate for participation – just do it

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There’s something to be said for showing up and chipping away at the work, says Phil Weir.
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In this series, the lads discuss levers.

I bought a new shirt last week, one with a well-known swoosh across the front and the popular slogan “Just do it”. Showing it to wife Megan, I was asked which word of the famous slogan is the most important. My take on the lever of what will best move New Zealand agriculture forward is to Just. Do. It.

Let’s start with “Just”. 

Being in my forties, I am part of the maligned generation of softies mocked by the Boomers  as the Participation Generation. We received medals or certificates just for turning up. 

As a prop forward coming 83rd in the school road race, I got a certificate. I also got one for a year’s hockey and tennis.  As a parent now, I do not scoff at participation certificates or medals, I encourage them. 

These incentives seem barely enough. In our world with similar school rolls, finding the numbers to make the cricket, rugby or hockey teams work is increasingly difficult. 

Physically participating is difficult, you must sacrifice. Heck, technology probably allows you to dial in or “play” the same game on the PlayStation to a higher standard. 

However, not participating physically is a missed opportunity to connect, to build friendships and business relationships, create community cohesion and have fun. 

Apathy has always existed in parts of our communities to local council or levy elections (I know as a candidate). Maybe the first part of a lever to improved sector outcomes is to continue to participate, to not think and therefore possibly hesitate, but to show up regardless of whether you run first or 83rd. 

And now on to “Do”.

The new shirt was bought to support an inconsistent habit of physical exercise, an important part of my life. Exercise is important, not because it results in a summer Speedo body or the completion of an ironman, but because it allows me to play more fully with my children, for my brain to work better, to not be an arsehole and hopefully results in a few more laps around the sun. 

Visiting a local gym, I see people there for a range of reasons. Training methods vary from weights to bikes to leaning on the wall for a chat. 

Farming, like the gym, is about turning up consistently without excuse and getting it done. The goals and the methods will vary significantly because, like every person, every farm and farm business is different. But what is observable at the gym is that regardless of training method, the results come from the discipline of repeat performance. 

Whether the end game is a number on the scales, a time run, or a weight lifted, the winning result comes from the act of DOING the work.

Finally, the word “It”.

My family have been playing the infinite farming game of battling Californian thistles for years. Anyone who has had a go at taming thistles knows they are a real prick. The formula is simple: you need to persistently top, chip, spray, slash and bash these suckers multiple times a season.

The assault needs to occur when the plant is at a certain stage, but in waging war, you need to also hit them when they are down. If they get away, hit them harder. Just hammer the buggers.  

What you also find is that if you miss a few, winter comes and Californian thistle dormancy creates complacency. The pest disappears – only to return the following year. 

Some might say you are foolish to worry about Callies and that doing the same thing again and again with the same result is insanity. Not for us and our farming business. We have a goal about how we want the farm to look and produce and IT does not include a summer of Californian thistles. 

By having a documented goal, the work has a purpose or a why, it is not forgotten or neglected, and year on year the thistle patches get smaller and smaller.

Farming is hard, but we often achieve the most when we focus most on Just Doing It. Yes, there will always be distractions from the government, the media and forecasters (economic and weather), but we will not be accused of being the Shane Jones neffs on the couch, we will succeed by getting out there and Just Doing It. 

Enough from me, there’s thistles to chip. 

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