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Living for your vision

Progressive Dairy Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 27 July 2020

My cow-loving 3-year-old son Cashton asks every night for the same bedtime story, but this is not your traditional “Goldilocks” or “Three Little Pigs.”

It’s called “Cashton and the Most Beautiful Cow in the World.”

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Once upon a time, there was a sweet little boy named Cashton, and one day, as he was walking through his barn, he saw the most beautiful cow in the world.

At those words, the sweetest, most peaceful little smile comes across his face, and his sleepy eyes flutter shut.

She was big and strong, with a beautiful udder. So he put a halter on her head and took her for walks. He washed her and clipped her hair. Then he put her on a trailer to take her to the county fair. And at the county fair, he showed her against all the other cows, and she won grand champion.

And the most beautiful cow in the world went back home to the farm, and they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

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Cashton’s not the only kid who goes to sleep dreaming of winning grand champion at the county fair. Unfortunately, many of the kids who share that dream won’t get the chance to even try this year. With canceled shows and fairs, COVID-19 has shifted 2020 goals for these youth and for many of us too (read Leading the Way: Success in the show ring is 365). Business goals, personal goals, family goals.

It was early April when the seriousness and severity of the stay-home order was starting to feel much more real and much more permanent at my house. Reality sunk in that some of the short-term goals I’d set for 2020 were not going to happen as planned.

Perhaps you can relate. For so many dairy farmers, the benchmarks of success were reframed and redefined during that period of time, as the milk production objectives we used to hang our hats on lost their relevance. The disruption of the supply chain, no doubt, took out many operations’ goals for investment, advancement and expansion.

But despite these circumstances, the dairy community showed up in a big way. Across the country, organizations, businesses and individual farms stepped up to distribute dairy products to the people who needed them most. Consumers craved the comfort and complete nutrition of dairy, and we found ways to deliver that to them. As Dairy Management Inc.’s Chief Marketing Communications Officer Beth Englemann states, Reinforcing dairy's essential role, in the retail space, “Dairy sales spiked and even outpaced growth across the rest of the grocery store.”

Looking back, what stands out to me most about this challenging time is the way so many of our dairy friends shifted their short-term goals yet clung tightly to a greater vision: To provide healthy, wholesome dairy products.

Just as I heard author and speaker Jon Gordon say during an interview at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April, “Don’t live for your goals. Live for your vision.”

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Our dairy community demonstrated heart-led leadership during one of the most uncertain seasons the industry may face in many of our lifetimes. We’ve done this by digging deep, despite disappointments, and grounding ourselves in a greater purpose than the goals we set out at the beginning of the year.

If you’re like me, you may be missing a bit of the satisfaction of taking a fine-point pen and crossing out some of those first- and second-quarter goals on your list, but I challenge you to look beyond the line items. Grant yourself grace and gratitude for the detour, and embrace the way these unexpected challenges clarified your vision.

And as for little Cashton, I may adapt his bedtime story to include some challenges and disappointments along the way – flat trailer tires, ringworm flareups and pink ribbons – but I’ll keep fueling the vision for my little boy to live happily ever after with the most beautiful cow in the world.  end mark

Peggy Coffeen
  • Peggy Coffeen

  • Editor
  • Progressive Dairy
  • Email Peggy Coffeen

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