Elaine, we started talking about this in 2014, and man, that was seven years ago,” quips the overwhelmed founder of a fifth-generation farm. “We need to get this done before seeding.”
Where is it written that you cannot have conversations from the tractor while you are on auto steer?
Procrastination is killing agriculture.
You didn’t get all your plans in order this winter, so now it needs to wait until November?
We focus and execute on the important things every day. Small consistent actions can lead to big and happy changes. It’s time for another mindset shift in your planning journey.
Transition planning is a journey that ends when you die. It’s a myriad of plans for communication, lifestyle, ownership, risk management, estate, debt, and the business vision. You decide which plan you want to focus on and just keep taking the next step.
Even when you have made all the plans possible and think you have the transition journey in a good place, you need to have an outside adviser double-check your approach. Recently a forlorn founder emailed me to describe her worst nightmare. A sudden death of the patriarch unravelled the well-thought-out transition plan when the greedy sibling whisked the widow to another province and started changing the debt forgiveness in the will and began charging rent to the successor. I have permission to share this story because the underlying theme is the risk was not averted because assets were not transferred with a warm hand. The patriarch also did not sign all the documents as promised.
Another death, but a happier outcome. The Springford family from Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island has a multi-generational plan and is grateful for the myriad of advisers who have helped them sign agreements. Founder Colin had his son Ross accept the transfer of the chicken quota in mid-January; a few days later Colin’s heart attack landed him in hospital in Victoria and then he was sent home. While out walking the dog, Colin phoned Ross to ensure that “he understood everything that he was supposed to do to carry on the farm. Ross said, “Yes Dad, we are good, everything is in place.” A few minutes later Colin breathed his last in the house farm entrance as he took off his boots. He was 75. Ross sent me a legacy photo of Colin shaking his hand along with Erin, Ross’s spouse, and Diane, Ross’s mom in front the Springford Market, their direct food market. The chickens had been Ross’s idea to create more viability for their beef operation and Colin was open to new diversity, along with the market. Ross’s sister was also part of the transition discussion. Although the family and community miss Colin terribly, they take great comfort in knowing all the transition timelines and goals are being met. A story of family loss, but great gain for certainty of the loved ones’ future. This is the healing story for agriculture that I want you to experience.
So how do you create a sense of urgency?
1. You share your needs and intentions. No one knows what you are thinking, feeling, needing or wanting unless you tell them, and ask them to confirm their understanding.
2. You craft more powerful questions. Ask, “What if?” and compare your answers to various scenarios.
3. You book time on your calendar with your advisers. Update your will and the power of attorney. Seek out a financial planner to create a plan for secure income streams. I know I have enough money until I am 102!
5. Use the timer on your phone or an old-fashioned noisy kitchen timer. Italians call it a “Pomodoro” (Italian for tomato) as their timers looked like tomatoes. Set the timer for 25 minutes and make calls, organize papers, block out time for meetings, etc. Momentum creates more momentum to getting things done. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
6. Celebrate the wins.
7. Make time, block time. Before the “Great Pause” a funeral was a large gathering to pay respects to the family and celebrate the life of the deceased. We would clear our calendar and go to be with the family. Today, funerals are small private events, or not happening at all. We all make time for what is truly important in our lives.
8. Ask this question to set up deadlines, “By when will you set the date for…….. (fill in the blank). The transition journey is a jigsaw puzzle of pieces that require accountability, persistence and someone to drive the process to ensure things get done.
Don’t let a health crisis be the motivator for change. Be proactive, not reactive. You can do this.
Tell me what you have done and I’ll send you a free e-book. Talk does not cook rice. Act!