Published March 1, 2022

For the Farmer: False Motivation

Written by
Charlie Adams
| The Dakotan
Sunrise near Westhope [Photo: Charlie Adams]
Sunrise near Westhope [Photo: Charlie Adams]

The definition of “False Motivation” is buying into the illusion that you're content with someone or something in hopes that eventually you really will be.

In the realm of business career advice, I’ve heard the phrase, “If you don’t like what you are doing, then find something else. Life is too short to be miserable.” Oh, right on! I’ll just quit and live with my parents and “find myself” and get in touch with my feelings and stuff for a few years. No problem. Sweet.

That’s insane! That is the most unrealistic advice I’ve ever heard... especially if you are running the family business. The family farm. Great-grandpa started it. Grandpa built it. Mom and Dad got it through some highs and lows. Now it is all on you. You cannot walk away. Quitting is not an option. You have no choice, but to stick it out and be optimistic. Being miserable is easy these days. Fertilizer and crop input prices. Global trade uncertainty. Drought conditions. Supply issues. Political absurdity. It is March, and it is cold and windy again.

In military training, the concept of “false motivation” is not just a phrase used to mock an attitude. It is not calling out someone who is faking it. It’s a concept that leaders teach soldiers. It is expected. For instance, you are trained and expected to use false motivation if you are not motivated. If you are tired, cold, hungry, and you have 4 miles yet to run – then dig deep, tell yourself you are motivated beyond what you think your limits are and get it done. If the drill sergeant is yelling, “ARE YOU MOTIVATED!?!” and you are really not -- the only acceptable response is, “YES, DRILL SERGEANT!!” Furthermore, it is encouraged to follow that up with a loud and thunderous “HOOAH!!” Or some other sort of innovative battle cry.

The last paragraph of the Army’s Ranger Creed is this: “Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.” Notice it doesn’t start with “I will have the intestinal fortitude…” The requirement is to display it. Displaying it or digging deep and changing your attitude can and will make the most of a bad situation. Prayer is central to all of this. Ask God for the motivation if you do not have it. Channel His strength. Feel His power through prayer. Give your frustration to Him, and He will get you through.

[Photo: Charlie Adams]

A phrase that farmers say over and over in a bleak, dry spring: “Seed in the dust, and your bins will bust!” Or this version: “Dust it in, bust the bin!” I wonder who the farmer was that first said this? I am pretty sure he was simply a good old-fashioned optimist. He looked for the positive in a bad situation. He made it positive. Maybe he first said it, and it was false motivation. Either way, he took control of his attitude, and the way others perceived his attitude, and it passed down to the next generation. Just like the old farmer that recently told me, “Charlie, we’ve seen it all before.” His tone and the look on his face projected, “Nothing will phase me.”

“A farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” Will Rogers

Start the 2022 farm season off on the right foot. Be an optimist. If you need to, use false motivation in hopes that you will get through this temporary difficulty. Display the intestinal fortitude and be an example for your family and your peers. Demonstrate that you will persevere and control the situations that you can and that you will not let bad situations control you. HOOAH!!

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