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Boundary Principles for Farm FamiliesBy mid March I am peeking at the garden to see if any black patches have managed to poke through. Spring arrives officially next week and with that the hope that a good growing season lies ahead, and a great time working together as a family.

This winter I addressed the Midwest Ag Women’s Conference in Indiana about living an intentional life. Funny thing is, I have been writing and speaking about a so-called balanced life since l987.  “We teach what we need to learn” is my mantra, and I guess since I am still sharing my life issues, I am still learning. In fact, one of my strengths is that I am a life-long learner.

Dr. Henry Cloud is my favourite mentor about boundaries, and his  “One Life Solution Workbook” engages us to seek out an audit of our time, our weak spots which he calls holes in the fences of our boundaries. I have summarized his 10 Laws of boundaries with my spin for farms.

1. Sewing and Reaping

We reap what we sow. This should be fairly obvious to all the grain farmers and gardeners, but how put this do we into practice? If we make certain choices or do good behaviours, we should like the outcomes or the natural consequences of our actions. My mom had a magnet on her fridge that said “ You can’t soar with the eagles in the morning if you hoot with the owls all night !” Are you happy with the things you are sowing and reaping in your farm team relationships? Without the gardener, there is no garden.

2. Responsible To and For

Sometimes as type A parents we do too much for our adult children, whose life task is to become independent and responsible members of society. Are you guilty of doing too much to rescue a child, causing a hole in your boundary fence? Ask yourself this question: “What do others on this farm need to learn to do for themselves? “  For some reason, laundry springs to mind!

3. Power to Choose

My essential message as a farm coach is that it is “Your farm. Your family. Your choice. “ Some farmers in transition are blown away by the thought that they actually have choices in the way they live their lives. They can choose to say “no, not at this time”, they can ask for what they need, and they can ask others “What would you like me to do differently?”.

4. Respect

When you respect yourself you do not allow bad behaviours or things that suck the emotional energy out of you. Cloud calls these actions “power drains”. Why have you let go of your self-control and self-respect and given power to someone else to control your decisions? I have very little patience for families who are into the “blame game” or “poor me victim roles.” Are you giving others on your farm the respect that you crave for? Whom have you let take away your personal power?

5. Motivation

When I felt too fat to get a decent dress for our son’s wedding, I hit the good nutrition and exercise path, once again. I got results instead of tears and was highly motivated to stay on track. If you are only motivated by the size of your farm, and the number of zeros on your balance sheet, I think you might lose your motivation when weather issues hit, and your family doesn’t recognize you at the family gatherings. What is it that you cheerfully are driven to do on your farm? What is it that you are doing when you lose all track of time? Know what your good drivers of success are, and accept that fact that your sons and daughters may have different motivation than you do. “Different is not wrong, it is just different.”

6. Evaluation of Pain

Livestock handlers need to have that 6th sense to figure out what is bothering an animal in pain.  Do we take the same sensitivity with people to figure out whether our directness of communication with them has caused a justified offense, or something else? We do not intend to cause harm to others on our team intentionally, but everyone has a different perspective on what conflict issues are, our intent. We need to be emotionally strong enough to check out what the effect of our words and actions has been.  Make quick repair of true hurt that you cause. Some folks are gifted ”at huge drama and the pain caused may be out of proportion to what the current reality is.

7. Proactivity

There is a popular acne medication called ProActive for zits. Think about the things you do to prevent bad stuff from happening on your farm, like shoveling the excess snow this winter off your outbuildings to prevent collapse.

Be able to anticipate the things you need to do for farm safety on the physical side, and be a good listener to anticipate how your farm team needs encouragement for the busy season ahead. Put some deposits in the emotional bank account before the withdrawal times of machinery breakdowns, and the rush to get the crop in.

8. Envy

When we desire what someone else has, it becomes envy. Don’t worry about what the neighbours appear to have, get rid of your root of bitterness.

Good desire stems from ownership and responsibility to create the outcomes you earn. I pray for all farm families that God would give them the desires of their heart. I also pray that they would understand that “the sluggard craves and gets nothing, the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”(Proverbs 13:4.) Have a family business meeting this week!

9. Activity

My husband is highly task-oriented which is a great blessing to our marriage because things get done in a timely fashion with family affairs and the farm business. I am a doer also. The law of physics states that action begets action.

Stop whining about what is not done, and start moving toward completing the tasks that you need to do. IF the priorities are aligned with your values, you likely will be much happier than if you are being “forced” to work out someone else’s agenda.

10. Exposure

Exposure is about having others know where you stand. Your boundaries, wishes, and values are very clear because no one needs to read your mind to find out what you stand for. The highest compliment for me is to be affirmed for congruent behaviour and integrity. In our family and businesses, we have zero tolerance for dishonesty.

Have a great spring season practicing the above principles on your farm. Good neighbours keep good fences. Don’t let the holes in your fences go without repair.

Live with great boundaries. Enjoy a happier family.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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