My kids are learning about courage, resourcefulness and taking risk. Our goal as parents is to raise leaders who pursue the passion of their hearts. We are a family of voracious readers. It has been fun talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House On The Prairie series. They get to hear the account of a family on the American frontier who are not guaranteed anything but the freedom to make their own life.
There is part of the book On the Banks of Plum Creek which had us on an emotional roller coaster. Pa has a goal in mind. He is doing what every caring father does – thinking about providing for his family. In the beginning of the story, they live in a dugout in the side of a hill, but he wants to build a home for his family alongside a creek in Minnesota.
Pa starts to think through how to get to his goal. He barters in town for wood and takes risk to go after what he wants. He decides to plant a field full of wheat. From the harvest, he will pay his debts. So he takes loans against his field and crops. He completes his new home complete with oven and luxury glass windows.
Pa works night and day on his field. The labor is tough. He turns over rocks and stumps. He tills the soil repeatedly. He buys seed. He buys stronger horses with his loan money. The family feels security. They have a home, a plan and a visible promise as they see the first seedlings of wheat cropping up.
The field is ready for harvest. They are proud. Then it hits. Swarms of grasshoppers raid their county. They decimate the harvest. Nothing could be done to get rid of the infestation. Pa and his family are devastated. The chain link in the plan broke. His risk is jammed in the feeling in his throat.
However, Pa has character. He doesn’t wander around in a coma. He takes action. He does what he has to for his family and travels far to make his luck turn and works hard, very hard. In Pa’s world, adversity is part of the deal. It is naked reality. No promises. Only reality.
Jack Welch put it bluntly, “We’ve only been wealthy in this country for 70 years. Who said we ought to have all this? Is it ordained?”
How life and our economy works can dull our senses. There was a time when everyone understood that there are no guarantees. You work hard to “create luck.” As institutions arose to give people a large sense of security in exchange for freedom, millions gladly signed up for the contract.
Today, companies are getting smaller, not bigger. Work can get done easier and the services we demand as consumers change with our inattentive whims. We are in the new economy. We are going back to the days of Pa and the prairie.
As times change, what mindset are you attacking your problems with? Do you invite them or check out? Those who become valuable are the ones who can solve problems. Think about Donald Trump’s observation, “Rich people are rich because they solve difficult problems. You must learn to thrive on problems. CEOs of big companies are paid huge amounts of money because they solve problems that nobody else can solve.”
Determine to become a modern day settler. Whether you choose to or not, prairie life will push its reality on you. We cannot change the tides of our exciting, yet uncertain economy. We can change ourselves, and it starts with the mindset to do as Pa did. Make plans, work hard, take risk and solve problems.
Our clients pay us to solve difficult and complex business problems every day with our knowledge of business, leadership and technology. These times are exhilarating for our team. It is all because we are modern day settlers ourselves on the new frontiers we are experiencing daily.