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Focus on What Matters

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The law of attraction suggests what you focus on grows.  Depending on what we’re choosing to focus on, this could be either a good or bad thing. Credit to Dr. Craig Manning who teaches this concept along with many others in his mental strength coaching.

Dairy managers have a lot demanding their attention each day. Milk markets, breeding programs, accurate records, equipment maintenance, employees, feed, and the list goes on. Then, you wake up the next day to the same concerns and new ones too. The items a manager chooses to focus on can make the difference between a successful dairy and one that under performs.

Early Dairy Experience

As a youngster I watched and helped my dad own and operate our family dairy. I was always impressed with the number of things he balanced each day to get the job done. For a time, it was my job to actually get the milk in the tank. I took one of the three milking shifts each day which helped me save money for my first year of college. It was educational and interesting to learn that part of the operation as we had just built a new parlor with automatic take-offs and hydraulic gates. My brother and I helped break the new place in and it was exciting to see the whole process come together with new technology.

One thing I learned from this was that my dad knew what he wanted. He wanted to provide a certain way of life for our family and to do so he wanted to produce milk and sell it.  These were the early 1980’s and on top of providing for our family he was also focused on improving milk production. I recall a chart tacked up on the wall that showed the Rolling Herd Average (RHA) LBS of Milk from month to month for the herd of around 500 cows. He used the DHI-Provo dairy records system to track the data. He spent time pouring over the test sheets that were mailed every month after each test day.

Fast forward to present day and with digital technology much of this data analysis is done with a few clicks or even viewed on your phone. Social media and web navigation tools make information immediately available and can help us with tools and apps that answer our questions quickly. We can see milk market data, herd records data and banking information that aid in solving problems and managing a business operation effectively. However, it can also derail us into paths that waste our time. It depends on how we use the tools and where we put the focus.

Why Focus Matters

In a recent conversation with a dairy customer I was asked, “what’s a good pregnancy rate?” We looked at the reproduction records and talked about the elements that comprise the calculation of the rate and the customer told me “Our preg rate is going to improve, we’re going to get after it and make it happen.” Based on what I know of the dairy and the managers, I think they will succeed. How will they do it? They’ll need to focus on the task of getting eligible cows pregnant on time. A sound breeding program and execution of the program is essential. It will require focus on the principles of reproduction management that matter. They will likely consult with trusted reproduction experts to analyze the current breeding program and then rely on the breeders and repro staff to execute the breeding plan and any needed changes. It will require daily attention and follow through if the rate is going to improve.

"The key is that we've got to stay focused on the process. Don't focus on the outcome. Hold yourself accountable for the process. The more pressure we are under, the more we focus on the wrong things and we start worrying about the outcome. As you focus on the process, you are dialed in on your strengths and what you need to do in the moment. The more we are in the present, awareness increases, and we have a greater potential to be high performing."

Dr. Craig Manning

What are you focused on?