Monday, March 20, 2023

A lesson from Donny…



California has been in the news a lot lately for its incredible stretch of wet/snowy winter weather.  After years of drought, the past few months, really starting in November has kicked into a new gear and the rainfalls and snow totals are incredible.  Kern County, where I work, has seen almost 9 inches of rain over the past few months, with rainfall running 177% to normal as of mid-March and another ½ inch of rain is forecasted for early this week…. It just keeps on coming. The snowpack in the Sierras this year has been incredible as well, with snow levels reaching historic levels.  UC Berkeley runs a “snowlab” at the Donner Pass in the Central Sierras and has recorded 668 inches for the season so far (that almost 56 feet!!) and is on track to likely surpass the historic record of 68.24 ft measured in 1938…. Its absolutely incredible!


Being in the Ag business, this extreme set of weather conditions has been very positive in a “strategic”/ long term view, and extremely challenging through a “tactical”/short term lens.  Strategically not only will the rain and snowpack re-fill reservoirs, and break the long-term drought conditions, there will be enough rain and snowmelt to actually “recharge” the aquifers in numerous growing regions, allowing the land to be restored to better more productive levels for future growing seasons.  Conversely the past few months have been incredibly challenging for our carrots to grow, gain size and length, and numerous fields have been swamped and damaged by flood conditions.  It was in the midst of one of those tactically challenging moments that a few “wise words form Donny” really hit home.


Donny is a inspiring leader at our company with over 45 years of service, who leads our Farming team.  His level of experience and expertise is unparalleled, and his level of passion and commitment to our company is always incredible!  It was an early rainy Thursday morning, as we “walked the carrot tables” ( see: when the chatter of the group was about the latest atmospheric river to hit California  ( we have had 29 since October 1.)  Donny listened for a moment, then commented to me that “ Remember Bill, you can’t control the weather but you sure can control how you respond to it!”    So true and so wise!!


While Donny’s “missive” was focused on the weather challenges facing our carrot crop at that moment, his “nudge” for us to focus on our “response” to it translates to business and life broadly.  We all have faced roadblocks, setbacks, unexpected challenges and barriers in our work AND in our personal lives.  I remember so clearly losing my mom to cancer when I was 13 and wondering how I was going to fare as I turned the corner to high school with my world turned upside down. Those High School years were tough, with many difficult moments… but I found my way.  I couldn’t control my mom getting sick and passing away so early in her life…. but I did control my responses to that tragic event.  While Donny wasn’t around in my world back then, his recent advice was as applicable to that situation (and so many others over the years) as it is today as we face more rain this week.


I share this story as an encouragement to all of us as we approach our work and out lives.  We WILL have challenges/issues/problems face us across time and we MUST remember that most of the time we can’t control them; equally true are the words of Donny, and his push for all of us to focus on our responses to those same challenges.  I feel fortunate to have the chance to share this story and very lucky to work in an organization that most often is focused on Donny advice and spends its time focusing on “our responses!”

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