Do you sometimes follow a plan or strategy to the detriment of the overall purpose of what you are trying to achieve? We can often times have the best laid plans, but certain things in the middle of the game can throw us off.

I have a maple syrup operation that I thoroughly enjoy. It is so different from anything I have ever done from a career standpoint. It challenges me to learn to be flexible, and at times just stop, slow the game down, and reflect on the purpose of the activity.

My Meyers-Briggs personality profile is ISTJ. That means I like structure, I take a systematic approach, and I like to adhere to a game plan. I like to have my days well planned out, and then I execute.

This personality type doesn’t always work well in the maple syrup business, as you are not in control. Your plans and your schedule might not coincide with Mother Nature. Your entire inventory of raw materials (sap) is dependent on the weather. So I can have the best laid plans and strategy, but until the weather decides to kick the trees into production, I can’t do much.

After producing syrup for 4 years now, I have learned that the success of the season is not measured by how much syrup is produced (although my competitive nature still pushes me to produce more each year). Instead, success is determined by the relationships that are enhanced, and the memories that are made by the people involved in the operation.

Often times in our businesses, things happen that tend to derail us from our original purpose. Our market might drastically change which causes a need for cost-cutting activities and the need to restructure. The next thing you know, we have lost our desired culture and identity that once defined us.

Focusing your energy in the following areas will drive sustained success:

  • Purpose – Staying true to WHY your organization was formed will keep you on the right track. I love spending time sitting around the evaporator with my family and friends talking and building relationships. MN Maple Ridge is not about the syrup (well maybe a little) but about building and nurturing life long relationships.
  • People – You might be going through some challenging times and you have to make some cutbacks. Or you might be experiencing boom times and things seem to be spiraling out of control.  Never forget to focus on the people on the team. It is those people that got you to where you are today, and those people that will carry you through challenging times. Let them know how important they are, allow them to do what they do best, invest in them, and encourage them daily!
  • Culture – Always remember what Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”! People are loyal to culture, not strategy. No matter how the plan changes within an organization, no matter what the latest strategy to enhance it, make sure that you focus on driving your desired culture. Your culture is what sets you apart from everyone else in your marketplace. Nurture it, and protect it everyday!


Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” Luke 6:9