← Return to Home Page

Success Strategies: Overcoming inertia


By John Ellsworth


I am sure you have heard the expression: “Don’t just stand there. Do something.” However, if you are like many dairymen today, you are probably wondering what action you can take to improve your situation. 

After all, your primary feed supplier is starting to complain as your amount payable with them extends beyond 45 days, milk prices continue to languish (or, at least, they never seem to increase as fast as they had dropped), feed prices show no immediate signs of relief, your family is growing weary of hearing you complain about the difficulty of cash flowing, and your banker seems unable to provide any financial relief. What can you do?

I suppose better prior planning could have helped. However, my objective is not to increase your agony with the financial challenges you are currently facing. Remember that the best time to plant an oak tree is 20 years ago, but the second best time is today. 

In a recent conversation with another dairy industry professional, he mentioned that he has observed that inertia is a big problem for many producers. He added that, “Nothing happens until someone takes action, John. That is where you have really helped people financially, in getting them to overcome inertia.”

After thinking about his statement for a while, you know what? He is absolutely right. It is in taking action that all progress resides. Believe me. I realize that you have been facing some real challenges this year, and I hope that by the time you read this article you are regaining some financial ground. 

A good friend of mine who previously finalized his divorce and bankruptcy on the same day, said that he decided to start taking action, rather than whining about his “problems.” His reasoning was, “Most people don’t care about our problems, and some of the rest are glad you have them…” 

Instead, he suggested that he needed to take action. You, too, have the right to succeed, but succeeding requires thinking and operating differently than you did 5 or 10 years ago.

I respect the challenges you face. I recognize the assumptions you make, and I understand how your past experiences have led to the actions you’ve taken. Right now, you are probably looking for more stability. 

However, I would like to challenge you to go two steps further. Stability, when it arrives, will be welcome. We are presently in a survival mode on most items. However, what you really need is not just stability, but also opportunity and revitalization. With the dramatic changes that are occurring in our industry this year, new opportunities will arise. 

Be sure to ask great “What if?” questions. What if you brought heifers home? Could you save money and still keep them alive? What if you sent them all off-site? Could you then milk more cows? As a result, would you be more profitable? Will I even be able to sell this extra milk?


Asking the right questions

The best part of this process is that the next step beyond stability and opportunity is revitalization, both in your business and personally. However, to proceed through these three steps, you must take that first step – to overcome inertia. Where would you like to be in three years? Are there changes that will assist you to get there? What areas do you need to think about changing in your dairy operation – nutrition, reproduction, financial structure, accounting, succession planning, others?

I may be able to help you. Check out our website at www.success-strategies.com. You’ll find many articles that may be of help to you, and be sure to look for my “Top 20” list of items you need to succeed! They will be coming soon, and I hope you find them helpful.

What’s next? It’s your move.


“Practice anticipatory thinking. What is likely to happen and what will you do next? ~Brian Tracy, Speaker/Author



  John Ellsworth of Modesto, Calif., is a consultant with the financial and strategic consulting firm Success Strategies. He can be reached at 209-988-8960, or by e-mail: john@success-strategies.com.