We live across the street from an abandoned chicken farm. It has been out of business for decades. The houses are full of leftover or forgotten chicken farm equipment. In our area there are many, many abandoned farms. Do you know why you see so many abandoned chicken farms? One of the large chicken producers invented an automated way to gather chickens, and they patented the machine. The machine was designed to fit their building size. Smaller farms – like the one across from us – could not use the machine in their buildings due to the smaller size of their facilities, and they could not afford to replace their buildings, so they went out of business. It was progress for the industry and death to the small producers. 

This is an example of progress with a question mark. The consumer benefits as the price of chicken went down, yet many small farmers were driven out of business. It doesn’t seem fair that one producer can change the industry to meet their parameters, and yet that is the beauty of competition. It’s the old ‘build a better mouse trap’ philosophy. If your mouse trap is better, the world will beat a path to your door. Or in this case, the world will eat more of your chicken. I say progress with a question mark as many farmers were ruined and their families had a hard time recovering. They were not able to adapt to the change, so their business perished. 

Competition is a good thing. It forces us to become better than we are – stronger, faster, smarter. It also makes us think ahead and keep our options open. One change can alter everything. Progress forces us to keep up with the times and think, plan, and think again. When thinking is done, planning is complete, it is time to execute. All ideas are great, yet those that execute well are the ones that survive. An idea that propels us forward takes guts and courage. It means being willing to reinvent, repurpose and destroy all that you know to move into a new realm of success. 

The company that invented the new chicken processing machine invested in larger buildings before there was a machine in place to do the work. Their investment forced them to invent a new way of doing things. It forced them to destroy the old to embrace the new. It revolutionized the industry and transformed the way we all eat poultry. Imagine being the person who suggested the idea of larger buildings before they could get the work done. Are you crazy? Why would we do that? How will we stay in business and keep up? All the reactions, negative comments, remarks about craziness…that one person had to endure them all. 

Do you have the vision and guts to destroy before you invent? Do you have the courage to step out into the unknown and change the way the world does things? Maybe you dont’t want to change the world, you only want to change your world. Either way, it takes guts. 

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