Seeing What’s Next

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With the 2007 spring season coming to an end, many of you are assessing the outcome of your efforts for that time.

While some parts of the country have had wonderful weather conditions, other areas were just OK and some had significant problems with wildfires, tornadoes or flooding.

It is very frustrating to make plans for the whole season, work hard to execute those plans only to find that it isn’t possible to make the plans happen due to factors beyond your control.

We know that weather is probably the most important factor in our success, and it is hard to fool Mother Nature! However, with new product lines, containerized gardening and environmental manipulation made possible with high-tech greenhouses, supplemental lighting and cooling equipment, things that were not possible before are common practices now.

You can read about all the problems we can encounter in newspapers, national magazines and even our trade press. Some folks will not be able to handle the situations and will decide to leave our industry, while others will find solutions to overcome the problems.

You have two choices in dealing with any situation: you can be positive or you can be negative. W. Clements Stone (1902-2002) made one of the most significant statements I have ever heard. He said, "Whatever the mind can conceive, and you believe, can be achieved." However, if you want to achieve it, you have to work for it. There is no doubt that using a positive approach is much more rewarding and profitable than using a negative approach.

There is a recently published book titled "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, who does a wonderful job sharing the secrets for money, relationships, health, the world and life.

The book stresses the law of attraction, and it states that it is a law of nature. For example, if you think positive thoughts, you will get positive results. If you think negative thoughts, you will get negative results. Therefore, money begets money. Smart people beget smart people. Productive people attract productive people. If you are positive, you attract people with a similar attitude. If you are negative, you will attract negative people. 

Thinking Green

You can build a great future if you have a clear vision of it. Currently, there are big efforts for the greening of the world, focusing on the need to reduce greenhouse gases. This term is a poor description of the problem since we in the greenhouse industry take CO² and water and produce oxygen. We have one of the only organisms that uses CO² to produce oxygen, the plant.

We in agriculture have been in the green business for centuries. If you read the popular business magazines, you would think that big business, politicians and conservation groups just discovered the concept.

The slogans are "Grow Green, Get Rich" and "Help Save the Planet." Since we have been in the green business for centuries, why can’t we capitalize on this great opportunity? You can if you have a clear vision of what could and should be done to solve the problem.

This morning I looked out over my lovely garden with lush green plants and many beautiful flowers. I thought how this would help the environment, only to look up and see 15 contrails of planes overhead, flying from the East Coast to Chicago. Our problem isn’t greenhouse gases, it’s air pollution from the hydrocarbons produced by planes, motor vehicles, wars, volcanoes, fires and many other non-greenhouse problems.

When I worked as an Extension specialist at Michigan State University, we actually had one town council that was thinking of banning all greenhouses from being built in their area so that they could help reduce the greenhouse gases. Of course, that was 20 years ago. However, we still have hundreds of people who are that naïve in their understanding of the problem.

What good does it do to grow an organic product in China and then take trucks, planes, ships or other forms of transportation to get it to your local grocery store? Is an organic product produced thousands of miles away from the consumer better for the environment than a locally grown source of the same product? If we have a greening of America, why don’t we take the leadership in showing that locally grown, quality products with approved control procedures – organic or non-organic – will help reduce the threat of global warming? 

Positive Thinking

A book first written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles titled "Financial Success, Harnessing the Power of Creative Thought" was last copyrighted in 1990. Wattles has a few great statements that relate directly to our industry:

1) As a practical matter for people who need money, get rich first, then philosophize afterward.

2) Develop your clear vision and statement of faith, then act without fear or hesitation. Wattles indicates that you should do this "just as you would take statements by Marconi or Edison." They acted on their theories without fear or hesitation. He further says, "Everyone who does this will eventually get rich."

3) "The science of positive thinking is an exact science and failure is impossible." The supreme test of any experiment is – it works!

4) "The objective of all life is development. Everything that lives has an inalienable right to all the development it is capable of attaining."

5) You have the right to the fullest mental, spiritual and physical unfolding – that is the right to be rich.

The new theme from the possibility thinkers to major TV talk show hosts is to start paying attention to the positive and the possibilities that exist.

We must remember that no age or time of life, no position or circumstance, has a monopoly on success. Any age is the right age to start doing! Katherine Graham (1917-2001) said, "To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?"

Yes, we may not have done this year perfectly, but we tried to do our best. Some of us have done very well, some OK and some very poorly. But we have another chance to improve, to make corrections and to become rich, not only in money but also in improving our mental, spiritual and physical conditions and developing our own vision. Just make sure it is a very clear vision.

On May 18, I attended a memorial service for my friend Louis J. Brand, former CEO of the John Henry Company, who died at age 85. He brought the John Henry Company from a small floriculture printer to a major printing company for pharmaceuticals and many other areas. More than 150 people attended the service. Dr. Harvey H. Johnson, senior pastor of the Peoples’ Church in East Lansing, led the celebration ceremony.

Here are five things that helped this man become one of the great people in our industry:

1) He started each day by going outside, listening to the birds and having communion with God.

2) He always looked for good in others.

3) He was loyal.

4) He cared about people and tried to help those who needed it.

5) At the end of the day, before he went to sleep, he took all of the hurtful and negative things, buried them and let them go!

Pastor Johnson ended the service with this stark reminder, "No one in this room will leave this earth alive." Therefore, appreciate everyone you meet and know and tell them how much you think of them. This reinforces the idea that positive actions win, negative actions lose! All my best positive feeling to you all. I hope you will look positively on what is next!

Will Carlson is a Michigan State University emeritus professor who has devoted his career to educating growers. He also had the vision to launch Greenhouse Grower magazine with Dick Meister more than 25 years ago.

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