Well I must admit...I never thought I'd fall for that! What is that, you ask? 'That' thing us humans tend to do all too often. Our unique ability to judge ourselves on past achievements. To be confused, by rating ourselves and giving ourselves a mistaken identity.
Coming off the year that was...2014 - there was never any chance of going back to back and following up with an equally successful 2015 (if success is rated according to accolades)
*Business Person of the Year* - Scenic Rim Regional Council Business Excellence Awards
*Platinum Award* - Scenic Rim Business Excellence Awards
*Australian Dairy Farmer of the Year* - Kondinin Group & ABC Rural AFOTY Awards
*Marketing Program of the Year* ("Saving The Family Farm" - Vie Marketing), Australian Marketing Institute Annual Awards
*Queensland's 50 Best & Brightest* - The Courier Mail
Our story was covered by Landline and The Project, and radio interviews were done by Steve Austin and Spencer Housen - 612ABC, Greg Cary and Chris Adams - 4BC, Nicole Dyer - 91.7 Coast FM, Marney & Mike - River 949, Jamie Dunn - 98.9 Country, Ross Greenwood 2GB Sydney.
Some kind of year hey!!
In some crazy form of inexplicable logic, 2015 has left me more than a little flat. Despite invitations to speak, traversing the countryside, and speaking in 5 States...I regularly questioned my influence, or more to the point, subsequent impact. It is at times like this that you seem to question your direction - even your value or purpose?
My answers to these questions we less than inspiring. They we sapping me of energy - as I began to believe I was failing on many levels. I was failing my family and farm, as my absence was putting pressure on daily operations. I was failing my fellow farmers, as my dream of offering a solution to their financial woes was getting no closer to reality. If I couldn't figure this all out post haste - I would also be failing millions of Queenslanders...and Aussies for that matter, who don't even know we are heading for a fresh milk drought. The only saving grace was that support of 4REAL MILK was booming. Supporters and followers continued to put wind in my sails on a daily basis. To this day I still don't think I quite have a grasp on the extent of the following I am creating, or the number of lives I am touching?
Unfortunately I also started to lean heavily on a couple of crutches...to keep me propped up - to help me avoid the perceived reality of my failings. Morning after morning would see me drinking six cups of coffee, regularly skipping breakfast. Sometime after lunch (which I often hadn't eaten either), if I was working on farm, or in my office - I might have a beer or two...justifying "It's five o'clock somewhere!" It was not uncommon for me to drink a six-pack on a weeknight. Before I knew it, my habit had turned into a carton a week. I understand that many would argue that is common...or even normal - but it was not ok for ME. My energy levels were fading, my thought processes distorted, I was fast becoming an insomniac, but most frightening - that well know 'fog haze' was rearing it ugly head. I knew it was time - for ME!!
I wanted to see a nutritionist - as I recognised the importance of getting some quality food back into my system. All things happen for a reason...and I was fortunate to meet a great girl at Boonah Show earlier this year, who had already been closely following the Robotic Dairy FB page, and was very keen to bring her family for a farm tour. It was a great opportunity for a catch-up, and I committed to book in with her for a consultation. I was honest and transparent with all of my dietary and health problems, and knew she would give me a solid plan to work towards, and hopefully a kick up the backside! What I didn't see coming was a diagnosis of Hypertension!! Yes my blood pressure was very high. This was exactly the sort of reality check I needed. It immediately served as my motivation - and Katie did a fantastic job of putting the pressure on me in the first 3 weeks, of keeping her posted with my daily eating plan, and blood pressure readings twice a day. She was tough on me - but I stuck to the gameplan (except for a couple of blowouts at my local Beauy Show, and a great friend and cousin's wedding). Two coffees a day...three beers maximum, three nights a week, four 'beer free' days a week! Yes the first week was serious detox - but the next week and the week after I could start to see and feel the obvious benefits. I'd lost 4 kgs and almost 2 holes on my belt buckle!! Energy levels had risen sharply - and most surprisingly, sleep patterns were returning to normal. Thought processes started to function with clarity once again. Blood pressure had miraculously dropped from 160/120 to a very respectable 123/81 without medication!! Funny thing, I often only felt like one or two drinks on a 'beer' night - now drinking less than a 6-pack a week. Amazing how some healthy lifestyle adjustments can positively impact the human body.
Wait a minute...said the faithful old body. Not so fast!! Yes just as I was chomping at the bit, ready to blast out of the blocks - another pothole in the road of life. SHINGLES!! All things for a reason, and this was especially great timing. I was about to embark on a 3,000km roadtrip with my 17yo daughter - to spead the good news of 4REAL MILK now being available in regional and remote QLD towns, and to run information talks about the importance of customers and retailers supporting farmers to keep them alive, providing fresh food to the consumer. Needless to say, we've had to reschedule that roadtrip for late November 2015. I wouldn't wish shingles on my worst enemy, and I'll be forever grateful I didn't have to endure the worst of it on the road...and that my daughter didn't have to cope with me in that state. It's been tough enough for me dealing with the excruciating pain through the worst of it, in the comfort of my own house. I'm confident the enforced lay-off is building my body to greater strength. My mind is certainly improving, so when my body is willing...look out!!
Until recently, there was one thing that I hated with a passion...it was the word "PASSION". I just always felt it was staged. I didn't feel comfortable using it, like I was a fake or a phoney. But through my relentless drive to solve the problem as I see it in Australia, the inability of the consumer to see past marketing spin, I've been given purpose. Through my efforts to educate and create awareness - to enable consumers to be motivated to help the people who grow the food, so the people who grow the food (perhaps the most noble of all Aussie professions) can continue doing so, and in turn help the people who need the nourishment that the food provides. It's not rocket science - but it is definitely WIN WIN!! What's all this got to do with passion? Well I guess I never used to believe that passion was real...because I never 'HAD IT'. But now that I've 'GOT IT'...I 'GET IT' !!
Yes I believe that everything I attempt to do today is dictated and driven by PASSION. A passion that I may not always understand - but will likely continue to serve, like a slave to its master.
We as a community need to give our farming families a future - we MUST!!