ISA CEO Kirk Leeds in Truck

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Executive Insights: We've got this

April 21, 2022 | Kirk Leeds

Uncertainty and stress are part of life. For soybean farmers, the challenges heading into this planting season seem especially acute.

As if the pandemic, persistent drought, supply chain issues and rampant inflation weren’t enough to keep our minds occupied, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adds to the concerns. Putin’s blatant disregard for life and property is maddening and heartbreaking. The suffering and economic fallout from this needless conflict will be long-lasting. I pray for a quick resolution.

Perhaps a silver lining emerging from the chaos is a renewed mindfulness of the importance of family, relationships and those special activities or places that bring us joy and fulfilment. It’s easy to take these things for granted. Let’s be more intentional and be present for them and in them.

When challenged, I find it beneficial to see the best in each other and the moment. Focusing on the important stuff brings much-needed peace and calm.

Experience and wisdom cannot be overstated when challenges arise. While none of us like the aches and pains (or gray hairs) that come with aging, lessons learned from dealing with ups and downs enable us to better manage what life throws at us. We can better discern what we can change and accept what we can’t. Experience brings wisdom and with it, confidence.

As I’ve progressed in my time at the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), I’ve also come to embrace the adage, “This too shall pass.” It’s not a flippant or passive remark but acknowledgement of, “We’ve been here before, and we’ll get through it again.”

Shortly after getting this job in the early ‘90s, I read “Embrace Chaos” authored by Tom Peters. The popular author and motivational speaker touted the importance of bringing context to events that come our way. When focused only on the here and now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel helpless. But when we step back and review the events more holistically and with historical context, we can be more pragmatic and effective leaders.

ISA has a proven history of taking on challenges with an entrepreneurial spirt and belief we will make an impact. We’re students of history and rely on the wisdom of our farmer leaders to bring context and big-picture thinking to successfully manage chaos. We believe choppy waters sharpen focus, generate new partnerships and stimulate more effective strategies to accomplish goals.

We’re enduring incredible changes and challenges. Loved ones have been impacted by the pandemic. Nations are at war. New technologies are emerging at warp speed, market volatility is immense, and labor and input costs are constantly in flux.

But together, we’ll overcome the chaos by embracing it, keeping our eye on the ball, and doing really important stuff with purpose and the people who matter most. We’ve got this.