Stephanie Hilton: We Are Resilience—A Time to Refocus and Reassess

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Mon. May 25th, 2020 - by Stephanie Hilton

SPRINGFIELD, IL - We are living in a time where the moment you can manage your expectations the circumstances change. Today, many consumers, professionals, and pundits are waiting and watching for that other shoe to drop, for the rug to get pulled out from underneath us. But, instead of that loud defeatist dialogue that could easily have enveloped and separated us, we have stepped up and risen above the noise together.

To say we are good at adapting is an understatement—as an industry and as a country. I don’t believe anything I have experienced could have prepared anyone, let alone my family and company, for the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, 9/11 was a defining moment in my lifetime. It was the event that stopped us in our tracks. It is hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years. We couldn’t have ever imagined that could happen; we weren’t raised to believe that it was even a possibility and yet it happened. The event brought into perspective the fragility of life for me, and the preciousness of another day.

We as an industry have stepped up and risen above the noise together to continue to produce and provide healthy food for the world

I write all this to say that it is the resilience of this great country, its people, and the words “We will get through this,” that resonate the loudest with me during moments akin to these. I won’t compare the events divided by these nearly 20 years, but I will draw on the same strengths that surfaced for me and for our country. And I, like many others, will use the wisdom of our growth then, in order to gain perspective now.

Our industry produces healthy food for the world, and no attack or pandemic can stop that. It can cause some setbacks, but we modify and move on. Again, it is the word “resilience” that continues to come to mind.

When something impacts the produce industry, it impacts the quality of my life and my home. What I do is more than a job—it is a lifestyle. And, as such, it is one that is filled with passion and love for what we do. So, I am in this with you.

No matter the times in which we hold steady, with our ear to the ground in wait, or with our feet on the frontlines to take action, always be a student

Here are some thoughts and words of advice that I have learned over the years: No matter the times in which we hold steady, with our ear to the ground in wait, or with our feet on the frontlines to take action, always be a student. You do not know what you do not know yet, and navigating the times that we are living through is a huge learning experience. We all learn something new daily, whether it is through adversity or celebration, but don’t ever forget to tuck that nugget of information into your memory bank. You never know when you might need it.

Today, I am grateful for every little thing! There are always times that we try to take a step back and recenter and refocus to make sure that our priorities are straight. Next thing you know, work and life in general bulldoze their way back in and we lose that focus. This is a great time for refocusing and reassessing our priorities. Sometimes life has to shake clarity into the present, and we should not turn away from the opportunity. We are experiencing some of the most challenging times that most of us have ever—and hopefully will ever—experience. Let’s not let these silver linings go to waste.

Tom Lange