Federation Media Center

Date: 3/21/2012

Title: Commentary by Chairman Craig Uden

--Take Us to Our Leaders

"Eighty percent of success is showing up.” - Woody Allen

While Woody has a point, he misses the bigger picture. Success isn’t just about you. And when it is about you, others play a role.  

For those of us who serve in various capacities in cattle producer organizations, in fact, success is about the industry’s future. It’s about continuing a way of life for our children.  And it’s about gaining ideas and information from others we can use in our own operations.

As the pool of cattle producers becomes smaller, however, we’re facing a Catch 22. Our organizations rely on participation, and on a revolving leadership. We need more people to step up, and there are fewer people out there to do so.

Let’s face it: no one has unlimited and continuing supply of time to give to industry issues. We depend on people who invest their time and energy, then get back to their lives as beef producers.

Sure, “just showing up” is important. The record-setting 8,216 people who attended the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn., are a testament to that. But thanks to our dwindling numbers our challenge has become pronounced. In short, there are still too few of “us,” and too many of those who wish our industry harm.

The truth is, the only way we can make an impact individually is to get actively involved. It’s going to take more individuals who choose to lend their time and energy to the industry that has provided us with a living, a livelihood and a lifestyle.

Among the positive personal benefits is that we get better at what we do learning from others. Good ideas are not kept in a jar; they’re shared, and by learning better ways of doing our jobs we advance our operations and our industry.

Showing up is just the start. To put it bluntly, sitting on the sidelines will not keep our industry moving forward, nor will passively attending meetings and raising your hand only when it comes time to count the “ayes.” We need more producers with vision and a sense of greater good to get it done.

If you have chosen to stay away from the cattlemen’s or state beef council meetings, take Woody’s advice and show up – even if it’s just to see how things work. Learn the ropes of your local or state organization. Find out about its history and set of core beliefs. Get to know the leaders and the other volunteers. Sit on committees that interest you. Volunteer when they need a chair, or run for the office. Go to the convention.

Keep an open mind, but speak up! Don’t rely on your neighbors to carry your opinions about how your dollars are spent, or how your organizations are run. You must be present to help make decisions, but unless you make your voice heard you won’t have an impact. Don’t be bashful; set your sights on organizational offices. Bide your time when necessary. There’s continually a search for good leaders at every level. Talk to some current leaders and see how they got where they are.

Leadership isn’t about which member has the biggest ego, or which one has the most ambition. It’s about ideas. It’s about involvement. It’s about putting in the time and effort to build a committed team that is focused on common goals and targets.

Your community and your industry are looking for dedicated people who are willing to support the kind of lifestyle they enjoy, and want for their children. Success starts with showing up.

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Craig Uden is a fourth generation cattleman from Elwood, Neb.  He is a partner in Darr Feedlot Inc., a commercial cattle feeding operation. He and his wife, Terri, also own and manage three commercial cow-calf operations. Uden serves as chairman of the NCBA Federation of State Beef Councils, and has held numerous leadership positions with local, state and national organizations.



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