One of the last seminars before my COVID-19 sabbatical off the speaking circuit included a special moment while overlooking the mountains from the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Dr. Mike Hester and his wife, Peggy, were giving a Sunday morning devotion to a young farmer leadership institute.
They presented some wisdom that is very appropriate given the unfolding black swan event impacting the globe. While some of their points and perspectives have been discussed in my previous columns, let's embellish on some of the nuggets, given their four decades of pastoral counseling.
First, it is good to ponder the meaning of life. Readers of this column may have many different answers, but this period would be a good time to reassess what is important in life. Sometimes we are humbled by major events, such as the World Wars, assassinations, or events such as 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008 and, of course, COVID-19.
All of us have personal life trauma as well, which compounds matters. A philosophy from years of lecturing and working with students is to turn a “lemon into lemonade” and make every attempt to see the cup half-full rather than half-empty.
Take time each day to meditate, hear the silence and enjoy the simple things in life. Much of the existing drama is magnified by the media. Pause to reflect on the joy of a newborn calf, a sunrise or sunset to provide a platform of peace.
Next, take time to exercise. Sometimes a good sweat or the endorphins of an exercise routine can be very beneficial for the body, mind and spirit. My former basketball coach, Coach Murphy, always stressed that it is important to take a negative outcome and turn it into a positive experience through exercise. That advice has paid dividends in work-life balance.
Attempt to maintain a balanced diet. Yes, my Little Debbie snack cake habit or ice cream from our creamery can be a violation, occasionally. However, a good balance in diet can maintain both physical and mental health.
Sleep is important as a method of replenishing the body and the mind. Sometimes age and other conditions interfere, which I have experienced over the years on the road. Often a 20-minute power nap can go a long way toward replenishing one's energy.
Finally, make sure you have a positive support team. While social distancing is in vogue, reach out occasionally. This is particularly true for the elderly, children or grandchildren, and even neighbors. We can get through this together and come out on the other side re-energized and in a better mindset.
Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA, and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension, and other popular publications.