Jim Schweigert President, Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

I took away a lot more than a suntan after spending Christmas 2017 in St Croix, US Virgin Islands.

The Event

We booked the trip well before Hurricanes Irma and Maria took aim at the Caribbean. In the months following, I stayed in touch with the property owner of our rental house. Power restoration was progressing, but only 50 percent of the island had power and our rental house still didn’t. I confirmed that the house had a generator and figured that would be fine for a few days and stuck with the reservation.

At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, our generator blew a gasket or seal and oil was pumped into the engine. Smoke billowed and the generator was done. We had just lost all power.

On Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day, we experienced what many Crucians have lived with for nearly four months; no showers, no lights, no cellphone, no TV and using ice to keep food from spoiling. A day or two without power wasn’t going to ruin what was an amazing Christmas vacation. We had already spent a few days in St. Croix and learned from the Crucians that a positive attitude could carry us through. That night, we had one of the best Christmas Eves ever!

The Lesson

Despite the slow recovery, the Crucians we met were excited to see tourists coming back and were optimistic they would get power soon. After more than 110 days without a hot shower or air conditioning, how could so many people be in such good spirits? In short, they were choosing to have a positive attitude. Homes were being repaired, grocery stores were stocked, roads were open… they had survived. Sure, they were without the modern conveniences we rely on, but Crucians had come together to help and support each other.

This experience reinforced how important attitude is to the perception of an event or circumstance. In business and life, we will all suffer set-backs, disappointments and even devastating tragedies. During those times, if you choose to have a positive attitude about what you still have, over time, you’ll recover and come back stronger than ever. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude and response.

A positive attitude can allow you to overcome everything, while a negative attitude can allow you to be overcome by anything. In the New Year, make the choice to have a positive attitude and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!