A 'head plan' needed for growers to get ahead

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 16 Dec 2013

Dennis Hoiberg

Grain growers in the southern cropping region are encouraged to think about putting in place a “head plan” to ensure their emotional wellbeing.

Growers should spend time developing a resilience plan by “getting the mind ready to use the brain”, according to consultant Dennis Hoiberg.

“The mind is to the brain as diesel is to the header – both are interdependent on each other to work,” said Mr Hoiberg, of Lessons Learnt Consulting Pty Ltd.

“All I ask is that people in the grains sector apply the same skills and thinking to themselves as they apply to their farming and business activities.

“Some of the people in this sector are the best planners I have been exposed to in my professional life. But when it comes to having an effective ‘head plan’, that is a different matter.

“Regardless of what will happen to you in life, if you have a plan and a strategy to implement the plan, then most times you will come out of the situation probably stronger, happier and more resilient. More importantly, you will know that you will cope and thrive.” 

Mr Hoiberg, who regularly speaks at Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grains research and Farm Business Updates in the southern region, has been involved in development of a new GRDC Building Emotional Resilience Fact Sheet.

The Fact Sheet, which can be viewed and downloaded via www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-FS-EmotionalResilience, has been produced as part of the GRDC’s Farm Business Management initiative which was instigated by the GRDC Southern Regional Panel.

The Fact Sheet outlines key strategies to help farmers, and others, respond appropriately to challenges. These strategies include focusing on the things you can control; planning; looking after yourself; connecting with community; positive self-talk and listening to your inner voice.

The fact sheet states that resilience can be planned for, developed and practised, and that looking after yourself first does not mean you are less focused on your business.

Mr Hoiberg said if an individual lacked resilience and the strategies to appropriately respond to a challenge, they will display flight or fight behaviours – or freeze if they don’t know what to do.

“Flight behaviour is avoiding it, not talking about it, even lying to yourselves and others about the seriousness of it. Fight behaviour is best summarised as shooting the messenger as opposed to addressing the message. Individuals who feel overwhelmed tend to freeze.”

He said three rules should be applied when developing a brain plan to deal with challenge: a rule for ‘concentration’; a rule for ‘creating certainty’; and a rule for staying ‘cool under pressure’.

“Keys to concentration include developing a work plan, creating and using ‘to do’ lists, removing clutter and distractions and ensuring other people understand and agree with the focus.

“Keys to creating certainty include ensuring there is plan, using powerful and positive language, viewing change as a positive opportunity and being open to new ideas, co-operation and collaboration.

“Keys to staying calm under pressure include reminding yourself of why you are doing what you are doing, prioritising your health, staying connected with those around you, getting quality sleep and keeping hydrated and whatever you do or what happens – don’t panic.

“If you can apply these three rules, you will thrive under the pressure that comes with working and living in this rural environment,” Mr Hoiberg said.

Other fact sheets produced under the GRDC Farm Business Management initiative – aimed at assisting growers and advisers in understanding the capacity, strengths and weaknesses of the farm business enterprise – are available at www.grdc.com.au/FBM-factsheets


Caption: Consultant Dennis Hoiberg, who regularly speaks at GRDC grains research and Farm Business Updates in the southern region, has been involved in development of a new GRDC Building Emotional Resilience Fact Sheet.

For Interviews

Dennis Hoiberg, Lessons Learnt Consulting
1300 365 119 or 0418 384619


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

GRDC Project Code ORM00001

Region South, North