On the ranch, everything happens in a cycle without judgment. Every year there are countless endings and beginnings — life and death; growth and harvest.
When you live your life in co-creation with animals and nature, there is always an awareness that the cycle, no matter how much you might fight to change it, is simply meant to be — that starting over is not really starting over, but simply forward movement in the journey. The seasons come and go. It rains, there’s a drought. It freezes, there’s a thaw. You adapt and move on. There are no other choices. There are no reasons, it just simply “is.”
As the cow in the movie Babe so eloquently said, “The way things are is the way things are.”
That is how animals react to their world in six simple words. That is how nature works. It doesn’t create change, it adapts to change. It simply is — or is not.
Take for example the three cats in the photo. Each of these boys was born in the city — the middle guy was the member of a feral colony of cats born into the house of a hoarder. The other two, I have no idea where they originated. They were born as wild as any creature can be in an urban environment overrun with human civilization. This birthright gave them with two choices in one moment: die or move forward. (And they were lucky to have those two choices. Most feral cats are only offered death.)
Like all animals, they did not suffer internally over their fate or what decision to make. They survived capture, survived alteration surgery, survived the ride here. They came with other cats to the ranch — some of who decided to move on away from here, some who chose to offer themselves up to death on their own terms, and some who decided to stay and make the ranch their home. These three fellows, along with a couple of others, chose the latter path. They did not know each other. They did not come into this life together. But, here they are, happy sunning together on the back of the 4-wheeler as if it were meant to be.
They had no control, yet here they are, adapted. No whining, no misery, no self sympathy.
I say that living here is living in the blood and guts of life. Ranches are not sanitary places – figuratively or literally. Witness the birth of 50 calves in a season and you will know life and death, blood and pain; joy and love — and you, as a supposedly superior human, ultimately have zero control over any of it. You can only ride the wave of change as things roll into the future.
Although we all wish there were one, there is no way to start over. You can not undo the past. Once a calf starts through the birth canal as a breech, you can only deal with the consequences. Once a feral cat is captured for removal, he will not be going back. When relationships end, clients go out of business, economies shift, you have no control. You can only move on from there.
There is always a lot of change in my life it seems. Like the cats in the photo and the ranch around me, I cannot go backward. It is one of the beauties of life. The torture falls onto us as humans in that we think we can go back — we think we can start over, and we resist the change as we search the lost opportunities of what we saw ahead before the path turned. That is the curse of humanity. My cat friends in the photo suffered no such delusions and thus moved forward into change; became farm cats; and did so without regret.
Business moves much the same way as the ranch — it lives in the present moment, it changes according to the changes presented to it. As an entrepreneur the more you can embrace the process, the more successful you’ll be.
I routinely get calls from entrepreneurs who fight against change, however. They want an answer and a solution to a problem that does not even exist. Change is inevitable. Change is good. Change is also scary, unpredictable and, even though it never seems like it, without judgment.
Please do not get me wrong, visioning is great and I firmly believe very business should have a plan. But every business should also adapt the plan as needed, be capable of shifting the vision. We want every calf here to be born healthy, up and suckling his mama who gave birth easily. It doesn’t always work that way — sometimes babies die, sometimes mamas die, sometimes you have to grab the calf pulling chains and get your hands dirty. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t adapt to the change and life is lost. As humans we mourn the loss. Animals, I believe, do not. I think their connection to the greater is too clear to muck with fighting change. They adapt or let go.
In business, the adaptations are just as real. Sometimes it means embracing the target market that shows up for your business despite your best efforts to reach a different group. Sometimes that means changing your product or service as you learn what your customers truly need. Sometimes that means operating differently. Sometimes that means letting go of practices, clients, and projects that no longer serve you.
Droughts can kill, and when the rain comes, those plants that adapted thrive. Life is not for every thing or creature. Not every client is meant to be your client. Not every idea or product will succeed. And, sometimes where you need to go is nowhere — sometimes you just need to stand still and let the ground beneath you move you where you need to go and trust you will land in a place where you can move forward from there.