Thinking about thinking

How many times did your parents tell you to
  • Think about what you are doing?
  • Give this or that some more thought?
  • Consider your options?
  • … and so on.
When I went to University it was the same, they taught us to think about what we were doing, consider what the issues were, and how to think through a problem. It is the same in the farming Industry. I sometimes think (there I go again) that there is more opportunity for thinking in farming than any other business. There are so many decisions that require thought and that are inter-related that I think it would frightened most non-farming people if they had to make the decisions required on a farm.

I recently met some people new to the farming industry, who had not thought it through properly. The farm that they had purchased was back on the market and they were heading back to town. Not only had they not thought it through properly, but they could not think or see clearly enough going forwards. To them a sale was the only option. To me it was just one option, because with a lot of careful thinking, planning and follow through I believe they could have made it work.

But back to thinking, my family will often ask me what I am thinking about. I have learnt to say exactly what is in my thought process and they are no longer surprised at what comes out.

When I was dairying, I was in my element. I invented the first water dispenser, which started out as the Fraser Diluter and then became the Alpha Dispenser. I invented and took to the Field Days the forerunner of the Capstan Backing Gates for square yards. I invented all sorts of gizmos and gadgets on the farm, many of which were highly successful. I was also fortunate enough to win some awards at the Field Days.

Why am I telling you this? Because when things did not work properly, I would sit down and think about how it might work better. The dispenser idea started out with me mowing hay on a hot sunny day. Frustrated with the old piston type dispensers, I tried to imagine how I could get bloat oil, magnesium etc. into a length of Alkathene pipe, and this is where the idea of the pressure tank came from.

On farms, if things are not working properly, then you need to sit down and think about how you might do it better, or make it go better.

So how might you do that? Firstly you need to empty your mind of the clutter and the incessant chatterbox (mind talk) and focus entirely on the problem at hand.

You need to set aside time to do it and be away from all the busyness of life. If you do come up with a solution for something, then you have to consider what the effect might be on the first decision that you make, so you need to think about the inter-relationship of all the thought processes and decisions that you make.

Have a pen and paper close at hand to make notes. While trying to solve problems, remember that we only use about 20% of our brains at the best, so that leaves 80% untapped on any day for you to utilize.

There is a young dentist in my town, who talks avidly about thinking. He has thought up a device which is used when filling teeth. He is now manufacturing the device and selling them around the world, particularly the United States. Now he is thinking about foreign exchange, marketing etc while still thinking about new ideas. It is always interesting to meet him in the street, as he starts the conversation off with the words "I've been thinking". I have learnt to pause and listen to him, because there's a man who thinks.

It is often easier to accept the status quo and let everybody do the thinking for you. In this instant gratification society we live in, thinking might be right off your radar screen, but you will be surprised at the results of some focused and concentrated thinking.

Personally, I love reading all the economic data and reports etc., because then I can sit down and think about the effects it might have on the economy and New Zealand going forward. A good example of this here is oil going to $100.00 per barrel and what effect will that have on New Zealand's economy and also the world economy.

In Summary

We all need to do a lot more thinking. As Henry Ford said, "People who can remember facts are no use to me, find me a man that can think". It is the same on the farm: apply yourself to the thought process and do some problem solving and thinking and this will improve your business and your life. You can train yourself to think and become a problem solver, but it requires focus, time and energy.


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