Break Your Legs

by Dallas Mount

broken leg

Remember in the movies when the bookie’s tough guy would knock on the door and threaten to “break your legs” if they didn’t pay up? Sometimes, I think many of us would be better managers for our operations if someone broke our legs. If our legs were broken we wouldn’t be able to go outside and constantly throw ourselves into any task that required labor on the ranch, the Working In the Business (WITB). Then perhaps we’d focus more on the planning and evaluating, or what we call Working On the Business (WOTB).

The temptation of the doing the physical work is often hard to resist. When you drive around your place the endless jobs catch your eye. It’s rewarding to toil away at a project and see the results of your efforts in a new section of fence, a well-built corral or that new culvert installed. Plus, we know how to do it. It falls within our wheelhouse. It is something we have done before and know the results will benefit the operation for years to come.  

But what about all the other things businesses need to have done? Speaking of WOTB work, how’s the economic plan for the coming year? What about the cash flow plan, the grazing plan, the drought plan? On the people side, do we have clear positions with written position agreements targets and regular meetings with our team? Does our business have a clear mission and vision with our progress towards this checked regularly? If you’re like most, there is work that needs to be done on this list. Often these WOTB things aren’t in our wheelhouse. No one ever showed us how to do work on the business. In fact, we may not even know what a good result looks like. We know what a well-built corral looks like, but what about a well-built economic plan?

If the bookie showed up and broke both your legs, you’d have the time to do these things. Working on the business tasks really aren’t that complicated. It’s just a matter of following the steps to build them. Just like building a new section of fence there are some important pieces to get right. The way we lay out the divisions and enterprises in your business are like the solid corners on that fence line. We need to get those right before we start stringing wire.  

Maybe there is another way besides breaking your legs. What if you develop the self-discipline to make these things a priority and learn how to do them so you can take your business where you want it to be.  This is what we do at the Ranching for Profit School. We’ve been doing it for over 35 years with thousands of ranchers. This winter it’s time you attend Ranching for Profit to sharpen your skills on the WOTB work, these are the high value jobs in your business. We hope to see you in the classroom as the bookie might not know how to find you in the sticks.

3 Responses to “Break Your Legs”

September 28, 2022 at 6:37 am, Dusty said:

Timely article. I was just thinking yesterday that I needed to spend more time planning and less time wearing myself out. It occurred to me that I was constantly waiting for weather to keep me indoors but it was best to get things done outside while the weather was good. The problem with that is every day I adapt to the weather. So then I started thinking yesterday that I really need to budget my time for planning the day, week, month, year and budgeting my time for physical tasks that I enjoy. I mean, I budget my money — time is money — budget time like money.



September 28, 2022 at 7:18 am, Chad Kremer said:

Great example Dallas…and reminder!!


September 28, 2022 at 10:02 am, Derek Schwanebeck said:

One of the most positive things I get out of Executive Link was comparing my gross margins and Key performance indicators to the year before, and hanging out with folks that told me how proud they were of my improvement. Often times that “office work” is worth thousands of dollars per hour.


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