Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

A change in thinking


by Jesse Bussard

At this time a year ago I was contemplating what direction I should take with my life. “Should I pursue that PhD?” was the pressing question I kept asking myself. Sitting here today, it blows my mind that I would even be asking myself this question.

Over the past year my mind set and my philosophies have shifted a bit, some might even say a lot. Last February while attending the annual Cattlemen’s Convention in Nashville I came to the realization of a few things; the most important being that I had no desire to stay in academia. I realized I didn’t need that PhD. What I really needed was more practical knowledge and experience; knowledge that would set me apart from the rest of the herd. Knowledge that would help me to become the savvy cattlewoman I so want to be.

To do this I needed to seek out the game changers in the cattle business. Some of these game changers were well known, others not so much. But one thing they all had in common was the fact that their ideas and philosophies usually went against conventional wisdom and the textbook way of raising cattle the majority of the cattle industry is used to. Some might call these individuals crazy, but what they were doing and talking about intrigued me. And while at the time, I still had a Masters degree to finish, little by little I set out to form connections with these individuals and challenge my previous knowledge of not only the cattle business, but life in general.

One of these game changers told me a few weeks ago that I have been over-educated by the wrong people. Maybe that is so. Maybe I did spend too much time in college learning the ‘conventional’ way to do things. Maybe where I should have been was gaining experience with my boots on the ground instead of in a classroom.

That being said, while watching one of Bud Williams’ stockmanship DVDs recently something he said really hit home with me. He said, “Before you can get things right, first you have to get them wrong.” That being the case, maybe I’m not so hopeless after all. I may have gotten it partly wrong the first time around, but I realize now, that doesn’t matter. Because now, I know what I did wrong and can move on from here to seek out what is right.

There isn’t anything much more satisfying than having that clarity of mind. For once, I feel like I am starting to finally see things clearly and realize the direction my passions are really guiding me. I also realized that having an opinion that goes against the majority isn’t a bad thing. The important thing is to not let that opinion cloud your thinking. You must still have an open mind and strive to continuously think critically about the things that the rest of the herd excepts at face value.

So who are these are game changers? They are people like Bud Williams, Allan Savory, Ian Mitchell-Innes, Greg Judy, Jim Gerrish, Doug Ferguson, Grahame Rees, Bob KinfordDave Pratt, Kit Pharo, Chip Hines, and many more. It is individuals like these who I have learned more from and been challenged in my thinking by more in the past year or so than I learned the entire 6 years I was in college. If that doesn’t say something…I’m not sure what does.

So, I will continue to share with you my thoughts and what I am continuing to learn from these individuals with you on this blog and also on my Beef Producer blog, Fodder for Thought. In the meantime, stay tuned, keep an open mind, and remember…

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

~ John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American economist (1908-2006)

The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind.

~  John Stuart Mill, British philosopher, On Liberty, 1859

4 thoughts on “A change in thinking

  1. Great thoughts….and never discount the time you spent in school/formal learning. It all counts, even if the result was showing you what you didn’t need to know. If you hadn’t done grad school, there’s a good chance you’d always wonder ‘what if’ – just in a different direction. It all counts :-)

  2. I need to have you come back here to speak locally when you’re in town. I assume this program had some influence, somewhere along the way, that someone could learn from. Congratulations on your getting comfortable in your own space and in your own ideas. We’re proud of you here.

  3. There is no right or wrong way to go through life and achieve your goals, as long as you follow your values hold your head high. I look forward to your fantastic posts on life in Ag. and see that many others can just take a leaf out of your book and just “do”, as you have said you need to do the wrong things so you know what is right. Just remember sailors “tack” into the the wind similar to life when you are going a different direction to the norm.

  4. I am touched you would mention my name alongside so many great teachers.I often think about “What is the difference between a successful inovative farmer and one who struggles with the challenges of farming ?” the only answer I continue to come up with is they know learning is an ongoing process one must continue throughout life.They seek out those who have learnt from experience and that comes with lots of mistakes.Making mistakes is the best way to learn first hand knowledge.As the saying goes “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. Your learning journey is just beginning Jesse.

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