From the Heartland: Shaping Character

Life is what we make of it. We are all born into different situations, and what appears to be a disadvantage early on may be a blessing later in life. The reverse is also true. The journeys our lives take are as unique to us as our fingerprints.

Throughout life we experience highs and discover what life and relationships have to offer. We also experience lows or challenges that are not enjoyable. There’s an old saying, “The true character of a person shows through in how they respond in their own adversity.” Adversity affects everyone – multiple times throughout one’s life, and the Bible says we are to welcome these times as opportunities to learn and grow. Easier said than done, huh?!

The ethanol industry and POET have had their highs and lows as well. In the early days there was vision combined with passion and will. There was also significant adversity that would have made it easy for pioneers like the Broins to throw in the towel. But with each mountain that was scaled came toughness, wisdom and determination to keep pushing forward. After nearly three decades we are a company that is so much more than what was envisioned in the early days.

The advancements in the business and process of making ethanol are the result of team members coming together in hard work and ingenuity. There was trial and error. Mistakes were made and at times tough lessons learned. All this shaped the character of POET.

A company is the composition of its people, and we are blessed with talented people with good character who continue to grow each day. They are tested at work and in their personal lives, and often these personal challenges bleed into the work place. I’ve been fortunate to walk alongside several people in these situations. One thing is constant: Their character is being tested and formed.

I’m at the middle ages of my life now, and like everyone I’ve had my share of adversity. I’d like to think that I’ve used my situations to expand my character positively, but there are times when I probably didn’t approach things in the best way. I’m gaining perspective with each trial.

I experienced a new realm of anguish when I lost my wife last June to cancer after a very hard two-year battle. Difficult? Beyond words! Character shaper? Absolutely.

All the hopes of a future we dreamed of are gone. While I wouldn’t want to go through this again, I recognize how much I’ve grown as a person and in my faith. It’s wisdom you can’t buy or teach. It’s not natural for humans to want to endure affliction. But if you’ve studied history, you know affliction has always been present. This isn’t a perfect world, and until that changes we have two ways to respond to the problems we encounter in life: run from them or face them head on. I have more questions than I do answers but here’s my advice on how to handle challenges. First and foremost is faith. It is my foundation to living and understanding. Second, persevere regardless of how high the mountain or how long journey – Do Not Give Up! Last, take life one day at a time. Thinking and planning too much is energy that could be used to make THIS day the best it can be.

Hellen Keller said it well, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” I’m thankful the Broin family didn’t run from the problems they encountered. Jeff Broin has shared stories of what seemed like insurmountable odds during those times. Needless to say, perseverance prevailed, and the character of POET set by the pioneers is still being shaped today by our 1800+ team members.



Vital is a news & media resource published by POET, presenting a variety of stories with the thought leadership one expects from the largest, most forward-thinking ethanol producer.