In life, there are moments that shape who you are. Sometimes those moments are happy and sometimes they are not. Today I lost a cow. It was not just any cow. It was my cow. She was not the highest producer, she did not breed back the fastest, and she was definitely not known to give birth to heifers, but this cow was more of a pet and part of the family.
She had a nickname and a favorite treat. She was a friend to anyone who stepped in her pen and has been in more selfies than I have. Today was the day that I lost her.
It started out like any other milking. Cows came in, cows went out just like any other day. But today my cow was not feeling so well. As she came in to milk, she collapsed in the barn with no energy to walk. As she struggled to regain her stance we laid rubber mats underneath her to cushion her failed attempts. As I watched this, I realized that we had to take immediate action in order to preserve her life. After hours of attempts to slow the progression of her disease and increase her comfort, her illness overcame her.
I am sure by now you are wondering, “Good golly! What did she have?” The simple answer, it was something preventable. Through correct training and technique she would not have gotten sick or at the very most would have been identified as ill before it was too late. If the correct protocols that were in place were followed, none of this would have happened. And that got me thinking. It was my fault.
As a manager and a leader, you are there to lead your team in a way that unlocks the best of their abilities, and I was slacking. How many times have you walked past something you saw was wrong and thought, “Ah, I’ll correct them tomorrow; I’m too tired to deal with it today.” How many times have we neglected to spend enough time with our employees to make sure they had the resources needed to complete their tasks? Unfortunately, it only takes one time to start a bad trend for both you and them.
May my folly act as your reminder. If you are going to lead, then lead. If you want to be the best at what you do, then be the best. It takes consistent persistency to be on your game 100 percent of the time, but there are a lot of animals that depend on us to be just that.
Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.