Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blogs Rebecca Shaw is providing about female entrepreneurs and what the dairy industry can learn from them.One lesson that has changed the way I approach any situation is to stop saying sorry if I’m not actually sorry.
Shaw rebecca
Brand Manager / Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative
Rebecca Shaw is also the vice president of the Dairy Girl Network Board of Directors. She was for...

I laughed when Kris Rucks, owner at Milking R Dairy, told me, “I caught myself apologizing to employees last August for having to work in the hot and humid South Florida temperatures. Why am I apologizing? I can’t control the weather!” We all do this, though, don’t we? 

If you read my HERd Management article on defeating self-doubt, you’ll know that I enjoy reading what entrepreneur Rachel Hollis has to say. Her most recent book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, gives insight to “a shame-free plan for embracing and achieving your goals.” As a recovering apologetic, a lot of it really hit home. Especially when Hollis said, “We are afraid of ourselves … If we weren’t afraid of ourselves, we wouldn’t spend so much time apologizing constantly for who we are, what we want out of life and the time required for us to pursue both.” 

After processing my own take on Hollis’ book, I reached out to two dairy industry professionals who I feel set their sights on a mission and pursue without apology. Kris and Lindsey Rucks are a mom-and-daughter farming duo in Okeechobee, Florida, working on their family business, Milking R Dairy

After talking about South Florida weather, Kris continues, “I have found myself apologizing for other things that are out of my control. If I cannot accommodate someone’s request to change shifts, job position or time off, I end up apologizing because I hate that I can’t help them and also be fair to everyone else.” She says, “You have to learn that you can’t make everyone happy, and life is about compromise.”


A few years ago, Lindsey left a communications job to come back to the farm full time. “When deciding to come back to the farm, I maintained my confidence by listening to both my head and my heart, and weighing in on both while making a choice. I feel being a dairy farmer is a constant head versus heart matchup.”  She is also cutting back on the apologies. “Not saying sorry is something that I am working on,” she says. “I know I have ‘fake’ apologized to friends when breaking plans because of duties at the farm, or after a long day that I just want to go home, kick off my rubber boots and decompress.”

In the dairy industry, so much is expected of you. I’d list them out, but I’d need an additional blog post. You need to set your priorities, and own them. Don’t be sorry about what you’ve deemed most important, even if it’s different than what other people have done. 

A mentor and colleague once taught me a great method to help cut the bad habit of overapologizing. These are a few of the genuine and truthful phrases they taught me that have helped build more trusting relationships: 

  • “Sorry I’m late.” – “Thank you for waiting!”

  • “Sorry I am just now responding …” – “After sorting through my thoughts, I believe …” or “I’ve finally got my head wrapped around this. How about we …” 

  • “Sorry, I don’t have the time to do this.” – “Right now, I need to focus on other priorities. Could we develop a new plan that will work for both of us?”

  • Read this TED Talk article for additional phrases suggested by Canadian sociologist Maja Jovanovic.

Why are you apologizing for your life and managing things that are important to you?  

Small habits like having confidence in your direction and priorities like Kris and Lindsey and adjusting your everyday language can lead to big, positive change. As Rachel Hollis would put it, “We need you to stop apologizing for being who you are, and become who you were meant to be.”  end mark

PHOTO: Lindsey Rucks says she’s learning to stop apologizing for things she doesn’t need to be sorry about. Photo provided by Lindsey Rucks.

Rebecca Shaw