If you are serious about making changes in your operation or are still in the incubating phase, get involved with others of a like mind. There is no better way to get the juices flowing and stimulate the mind. Several people are much more intelligent than one when it comes to developing new thought or revamping the mind to accept something initially foreign.
Our combined information and thoughts were synergistic. After a member stated an opinion or experience, others would add something. Each person fed on another, thus picking up energy to carry the discussion forward. It is nothing short of amazing what can be accomplished with several people working on a problem. Each person brought something new to the discussion. No two people have the very same thoughts. No two people look at a problem in the same way. No two people had the same experiences. No two people grew up in the same situation, and the list goes on.
This evolved into a powerful philosophy and direction that would have been difficult for any one person to formulate, as we had such a large base of knowledge and practical experience to work from. This combination of different thoughts coming from several directions, being hashed out and clarified by logic and common sense was nothing short of inspiring. We managed to put together a seemingly,”ordinary”, group of people that were capable of, “extraordinary” reasoning.
We were spread out about 75 miles east to west and close to 110 miles north and south. Our operations ranged from deep sand to loam, from commercial to seedstock, from all grass, to grass and farm land, from 11 inch to 16 inch precipitation, from tallgrass to short grass. Most of us were friends or had at least heard of the others.
I would like to encourage others to give this a try. It could be one of the most important steps you take, not only for the ideas and information, but also for the support of like-minded people. When someone brought up something new, they were forced to defend their position, but then they were supported and encouraged in the endeavor. This is very important, as many good ideas are never acted on because the person feels alone out there on the fringe and is afraid to act for fear of failure and/or ridicule.
Several heads working together are more likely to foresee most problems and find solutions. It is very difficult for one person to do this. When working out a problem, one person is likely to concentrate on certain things and miss something else. A second person may see another aspect and a third person may see something else entirely different. In this way all angles will be investigated. It is easy for the brain to lock in on one thing and mire down. A group is much more likely to be all encompassing in their evaluation of a problem.
Possibly most important, none were regulars at the coffee shop. Coffee shops are negative. Our group was positive, and that is an absolutely necessary trait for any person pursuing continual management upgrading.
One thing I would stress to anyone interested in setting up a group is to set a meeting date and keep it, even if some can’t make it. Trying to satisfy everyone each time is self-defeating. If people really want to make it they will think ahead in making appointments and setting work schedules.
The first time around we met at a different ranch each meeting. After touring the place to better understand the workings, we concentrated on that operation during our discussion, with occasional digressions.
We usually met September through May. During the summer and at times in the winter we made trips to other operations when we heard of someone that was doing something out of the ordinary. There would be from three to as high as eight on these road trips, with a couple being overnighters. The ride to and from one of these trips was never boring. It was the setting for long stimulating conversations.
Other than our love of ranching, there was one other thing that helped make the bull session work. Humor. It was there all the time. It has to be fun. Too much serious conversation can have a dampening effect. If something is very enjoyable it will bring everyone back. It was this desire to take part, to discuss, evaluate and brainstorm while enjoying themselves that kept everyone coming back, meeting after meeting, year after year.