Recently, I learned of two situations where farmers were upset by land-rental situations that happened to them. That doesn’t surprise me, as tenant/landowner relationship is often a lightning rod in the game of farming. One occurred where a client called me and said his landlady was proposing to more than double his rent.

After probing into the situation I found the rent she had been receiving the last five years was far below the going rate.

What I often see in these or similar situations is the attitude of “Who can I blame for my problem?” rather than taking personal responsibility and looking for a solution. I’ve heard others: The bank loaned us too much money. I want to expand but I just can’t find any ground. Others don’t work as hard as I do. The neighbors have a cabin at the lake, we don’t. It’s not fair. Some people have all the luck.

I have said before, luck is a four-letter word people used to describe the successes of people they don’t like.

Life teaches us all in ways that hurt, but they are good lessons. We cannot control what other people do or say, or most events occurring around us. The only thing we really have control over is ourselves and how we react to what happens to us.

The most successful farmers are ones who feel they control their own destiny rather than their destiny being controlled by the weather, the markets, the government, the competition, their neighbors and so on.

And this is exactly why personal accountability is so critical, and why people and organizations that demonstrate accountability stand out.

In truth, there are reasons things go wrong. People make mistakes. The ball gets dropped. Stuff happens. Farming can be complicated, confusing and complex.

Any one of us on any given day could go on with reasons why things go wrong. However, if we play them back they often sound like excuses, and oftentimes that is all they really are.

It seems like the popular thing to do today is to blame someone else, whine, point fingers, play victim, become entitled and expect others to bail me out of my bad choices.

This summer I provided a copy of the book, No Excuse by Jay Riffenbary to each of our Russell Consulting Group Associates. I highly recommend it. Mardi and I met Jay and his wife at a Brock Manufacturing meeting about seven years ago in Hawaii. This spring I reread it, as I found myself falling into the habit of blaming others.

Jay, a West Point Academy graduate says there are only four responses a fourth classman cadet can give to an upper classman. They are: Yes, sir; No, sir; Sir, I don’t understand; and No excuse, Sir.

Saying No Excuse, gets us out of that “why me?” or victimization attitude I see so prevalent in society and our country. Actually it is less of a problem in farming than the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do better and take the high road of personal accountability. Simply said: “No excuse.”  

Late November 2010