“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Looking back over this seminar, several things stick out more than others in my mind. I am reminded of smart perseverance and the need to get out of my comfort zone.

The first thing is smart perseverance. I saw this in Tanya Cauthen’s pursuit to open a butchery and CJ Isbell’s vision to operate a profitable farm business. I say smart perseverance because perseverance without thought is just another definition of insanity. I appreciate Tanya’s willingness to be flexible in combining two businesses in order to give their own personal lives some flexibility as we all know finding a balance between work and home life is very difficult. I also appreciate CJs thought process into deciding which cows he wanted to breed and raise. There was a lot of thought into which breeds had certain attributes and what works best in this climate. He also was willing to be flexible in how he utilizes his own resources. For example, he uses chickens that he already owns, to not only produce eggs, but to also utilize them for pest control purposes in the field.

The second things that sticks out to me is the constant need for me to get out of my comfort zone. It is natural to go to the safe space, but we do not grow in this space. As I am sure many of my cohort will attest to, being interviewed and recorded is not a normal daily occurrence and it is a bit uncomfortable. Doing interviews with Farm Bureau in a controlled space with positive reinforcement from VALOR members is a way to get out of the comfort zone without being pushed off the cliff.

The last thing that sticks out to me is the realization that I am good at certain things and those are the things I should be focusing on and not so much on my weaknesses. Dana Fisher helped me realize this as he discussed his thoughts and how he used the Strengths Based Leadership book to make himself more successful. This is very different from the normal school of thought that tells folks to focus on their weaknesses. It makes sense to me that one would need to focus on their strengths because everyone has weaknesses and since we are inherently different, this makes the most sense.

I realize that I have not addressed all the events that the team participated in during this seminar in Richmond. While those events were fascinating, they did not hold as much value to me as the above-mentioned activities. I think this is part of knowing my strengths and what I want out of life. I realize networking is important for career growth, but I also know that it is physically more tiring for me to network. (Meeting Winsome Sears at the Agribusiness dinner was a special treat.) We are the sum of our experiences and VALOR is helping me to navigate the next chapter of my life. Thank you!

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