Try something new

When I hang up my rugby boots I plan to head back into farming.  Recently, I’ve been spending some time on my farm and working on my own skills.

This got me thinking about how learning new things can really freshen things up for us and how even the toughest times are a chance to get better at something, as long as we’re prepared to learn and embrace change.

Everyone Learns Differently

Brushing up my on-farm skills reminded me that everyone has their own learning style.

On the rugby field, I like just getting in there and doing it. We walk through moves to get a clear picture and then just get into it.

But back on the farm, it’s different for me. It’s about actually having someone show me and then me trying myself. I’ve had to be prepared to make a few mistakes and realise that without having a go and creating the odd issue, I’m never going to learn.

Passing on Skills to Others

When we want to pass on skills to others, it’s the same story. We really need to work out first how people prefer to learn and receive information and accept that everyone’s different. Some people prefer learning by discovery – you’ve just got to let them go and let them make the mistakes. Other people want you to show them and tell them. Some people need regular encouragement, others more direct feedback without the ‘small talk’. Rather than guessing, it’s worth asking people how they want to receive your feedback. I’ve learnt from sport that if you ask, people will usually give you an honest answer.

Learn to Control the Controllables

One of the other things that sport has taught me is that even the toughest times are a chance to learn. That’s something I’ll definitely be taking into farming to help me deal with pressure. That old saying, which I can still picture my father reciting, is so true – ‘control the controllables’.

In rugby, no one controls the referee and in farming, none of us control the weather. Whether there’s too much rain or not enough. It’s the same with the payout, whether it’s a dairy payout or the land price, beef price, wool price, whatever. In farming and in life, you’ve simply got to learn to roll with the punches to a certain extent.

When you’re feeling under the pump, it’s all about keeping perspective and looking at what you can have an influence on and how can you do it positively. There’s nothing worse than always seeing the negatives in something. The easiest way is to turn the situation around and ask yourself, ‘what’s the positive?’

What’s the opportunity here to change or learn something? Whether it’s changing a fence line or a new water system or how you operate as a team with staff, changing the roster. Having the right mindset and being prepared to learn is a real asset when you’re under pressure.

 Try Something New

Learning is one of the 5 ways to wellbeing for a reason – it gives us a fresh perspective on things and often reminds of us why we love what we’re doing in the first place. I recently decided to try something different and did a rugby coaching course. It means in future I’ll be able to referee things like kids’ sport, which is neat.

Doing that coaching course not only opened a few different doors for me, I also enjoyed just doing something different compared to playing and training. Learning new things is a chance to change things up. It’s good for your brain and helps keep your thinking flexible and open.

Once my playing days are done, I know I’m going to enter the industry at the bottom of the chain and will have to work my way to the top. Hopefully I’ve got a bit of time to do that, but that’s one thing that excites about farming – there’s always an opportunity to learn and grow.


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