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Senior Correspondent

What do you do when your cow up and dies? This is exactly what happened to my cousin this spring. Not just one cow, but four perfectly healthy cows just up and died.

Cousin Steve is like the cow whisperer. He is an extremely skilled and professional farmer. Matter of fact, he has been successfully farming for decades. And this is the first time he has had a rash of healthy cows just up and die. The cause: grass tetany due to the lush but magnesium depleted grass of our unprecedented early spring. 

Steve carefully raises his herd and tends to their special needs. He has delivered and raised many a calf. He is a real pro, and yet he still experienced a rash of dead cows.

It happens. No matter how experienced and skilled we are, our cows can up and die too. It can happen suddenly and for no apparent reason. It can even be our "sacred cow." It does not matter how competent and experienced we are, our cows still up and die.  

Our job ends. We lose a contract or a good customer, and we didn't see it coming. Our project is cancelled. Funding disappears for our favorite nonprofit. Our business closes. All of our hard work, dedication, skills and experience matter very little in these situations. Change and loss still happen, and it feels personal. We might wonder what we did wrong or why this happened to us. 

So what do we do when our cow up and dies? Well, we can "should" on ourselves. We can lecture ourselves on all the things we "shoulda, coulda" done differently or better. That kind of inquisition can lead us right into a deep pile of junk, where we can easily get stuck or mired down indefinitely

There can be some value in a different kind of reflection, however. It can be extremely valuable to look back at a situation, as painful as it may be, and ask ourselves what we might learn. How can we apply those lessons to future situations or opportunities? To quote a famous cowboy saying, "when you lose, don't lose the lesson."

Dead cows are still a drag, but we can and must move on. That's what Cousin Steve does. He continues to learn and apply his new knowledge every single day on the farm. Farmers don't have the luxury of wasting a single lesson. Do you?

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