Valuing our role models

Andrew Morrision reflects on the importance of role models and encourages young farmers to align themselves with inspiring individuals.
Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A time for reflection

As the calendar rolls over to another year I enjoy getting a bit philosophical over the BBQ, thinking about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in 2017.

The Christmas and New Year period is also a time for reflection. For me, catching up with friends and family reminds me of the role so many of these people have played in shaping me as a person, father, husband, farmer, farmer politician and friend.

The importance of role models

It was Isaac Newton who said if he could see further it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants. I have been fortunate to have had many “giants” – or role models – in my life, including my father George, my uncles, farming colleagues and industry leaders. Their collective wisdom has been inspirational and encouraging.   

Just observing these people over the years has taught me so much; seeing how they react during times of adversity and listening and learning from their hard-won experience.

Leading by example

In this country, we are very good at holding our sporting heroes up as role models. But, to my mind, role models are those who live a life that inspires us – people who make us want to do better and be better, both personally and professionally. They lead by example.

As an industry, farming has a number of role models – people who may have found strength in adversity – or who have just got on quietly with achieving their goals but have been prepared to share their experiences with the wider community. There are individuals within every community who inspire. They needn’t be industry leaders, rather people who live their lives and run their businesses in a way that makes us strive to be better.

Sharing knowledge

Going into 2017, I urge younger farmers to seek out and align themselves with these individuals. Over the years, I have found people within the farming industry to be incredibly generous with their time, knowledge and experience.

Similarly, I encourage those of you with experience to be willing to mentor – even if it’s just being a sounding board – to those starting out. It can be rewarding and beneficial to both parties.

A positive attitude

There is much to be said for surrounding yourself with positive people. Whether it be through a formal mentoring role, or simply by osmosis. People with a positive outlook on life are a joy to be around and make our lives richer.

Personally, I enjoy working alongside those who focus on the solution, rather than the problem.

As with any industry, farming will always have its challenges, but it’s how we react to those challenges that is the most important factor. Drawing on the experience of others, maintaining a positive outlook and celebrating progress is a better way forward for us all.

Andrew Morrison is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Southern South Island farmer director. You can contact him on 027 6644 620