Good is the Enemy of Great, so Don't Settle for Being a Mediocre Farmer — Chip Eichelberger


This week we are on the TechTour LIVE road show in Camrose and Lethbridge. Our keynote speaker is Chip Eichelberger, who engages audiences to “get switched on” and “plugged back in.”

In Chip’s keynote, he mentions that it’s actually not that difficult to compete in North America because so many people are comfortable being mediocre. Many people, including farmers, are comfortable with just good enough.

When you take part in your daily farming activities do you settle for good? What if you strived for greatness?

Chip explained to the audience that great is actually on a different planet than good. Being good is not even close to great. The performance gap to greatness is not as close as you may want to believe.

It made me think of a hockey playing friend of mine (we will call him Gary) and the story of regret he told me about achieving greatness and his ultimate goal of playing in the NHL.

Gary loved to play hockey in the garage as a kid. He was always focused on life goals so he wrote his hockey playing goals on a chalkboard in the garage. Here is how it read…..

  • Play in the WHL
  • Get drafted to the NHL
  • Play in the NHL

Those seem like very high goals.  He actually accomplished the first two. So whats wrong? Gary always told me that he didn’t understand how far away being great was from good. Even though he played in the WHL as a 17 year old and was drafted in the NHL second round, he was still a long ways from the NHL. The process of being great and playing the in NHL was a long ways from being very good (being a high draft pick and playing in the minor leagues). Once he retired, Gary reminisced that had he better understood the performance gap between good and great in the moment he might have raised the probability of being great and achieving his ultimate goal of playing in the NHL.

According to Chip, the other misconception of being great is the length of time you have being doing something.  You might have been checking cows or driving combine for the past 40 years, that doesn’t mean you have been doing it correctly or that you are the best at it.  Is it possible that you have been an average combine operator for the past 40 years, instead of being great?

Just because you have been farming or ranching for a long time, it does not make you great. It likely just makes you older.  You may be poor, average, good or great, but that has little to do with how long you have been in the business.

An example of this, how time doesn’t mean greatest, is Randy Dowdy. Randy farms in Georgia and recently grew a 503.7 bushel corn crop in a plot challenge.  The almost amazing thing is that Randy has only been farming since 2006. That’s right, he started farming in 2006.

“The biggest problem with farmers is they’ve been doing it for a long time.…It’s hard to argue with a farmer who’s been successful, paid for farms, paid for kids’ college educations and paid for ground,” said Dowdy. He maintains, however, that even successful farmers can take corn performance and profitability to a new level if they think outside the box and challenge accepted practices. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Think about some of your farm business goals or activities.  Are you actually great or do you need to make the leap from good to great, no matter how big that leap might actually be?

As Chip would say, make the decision to start being great today. Don’t just be a regular mediocre version of yourself. Be a great version of yourself in everything you do.

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