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Things on our farm are changing again, an employee moving on. In Stephen Poulter’s book “The Father Factor” he talks about the fathering style of a “compassionate mentor”. This is a great style for farm founders to embrace over the winter months as they train the next generation for success. Smart farm dads and moms realize that family employees who stay farming are happy and passionate about their farm team roles.
Let’s look at why we need more merciful mentors on our farms:
1.Successful people have great role models and people who share wisdom.
2.We need different people at different stages of our life. Our young married son has a great connection to peer farmers, but he also relies on input from his father who has over 35 years experience in the game of farming.
3. “The Lone Ranger” is a myth, says Rev. Gaetane Marshall. She says that we need a support system to survive, one with accountability checks. Do you know any “Lone Ranger” farmers who refuse to ask for help from professional advisors?
4.Affirmation is necessary for survival. A letter of appreciation and encouragement to your farming son/daughter or parents this Christmas is probably the most priceless gift that you can give. Put pen to paper, or keyboard to printer and share affirmations with your farm team, especially family.
5.We need someone to show us how it is done. And be flexible to do it in a new way.
New technology is not “new” to someone who has never known any different, ie. our young successor son. He keeps telling me just to keep pushing buttons, because he knows I am afraid something will break , which of course it will not !
6. Mentoring is your opportunity to “Pass on the baton” as John Maxwell says. It creates legacy.

“Mentoring is investing in the life of another person, a service of increasing some one else to make them great, decreasing self and releasing the gifts of another,” says Gaetane Marshall.

As a farm family coach it brings me huge joy to hear a farming dad say “Elaine, I made a lot of mistakes in my early years, that I really want to protect my son from repeating.” This is the heart’s cry of a successful business person being very self-aware of how his actions impact the learning points of his successor. This father has an attitude of lifelong learning and wisdom to empower the next generation with. He is not interested in being controlling, cloning himself, criticizing or making himself co-dependent with the next generation. As mentors we all need to be wise about setting boundaries, and not doing too much for one we are mentoring.

Our goal as farm parents who want to create legacy is to help increase the success others on our farm team. We can develop a network of mentors for the next generation in many different phases of their farming career development. As a farm coach, mom, and wife, I explore work/life balance options with young families . This is an on-going journey, not something that is fixed with a checklist of “to -do” items and then it is done. Farm families want to be thriving, not just surviving the daily stresses.

How attractive are you as a mentor? Do you manage your emotions well? Can you see difficult feedback as a learning and growth opportunity rather than judgment?
Attitude is a huge deal. Watching a father and son discuss options for capital purchases, marketing, production with a respectful tone and sense of “equality as partners” is a beautiful thing. Getting calls about the founders who refuse to make new shareholder agreements or come to a table for open discussion of a new vision for the farm is depressing.
There is an expectation of an exchange of ideas with respect and accountability when the mentoring relationship is working well.
Here is Marshall’s list (farmers love concise lists I am told ) of mentoring in motion:
1. Assess.
2. Watch for potential, passion and positive attitude.
3. Initiate and invest. Set boundaries, don’t over-function.
4. Give timely advice.
5. Be a role model. (Handle communication and conflict well !)
6. Give encouragement, feed-back, correction, accountability , discipline.
7. Provide co-working training opportunities.
8. Give freedom, to make mistakes and adopt a learning culture.
9. Expect a good return and exchange of ideas and outcomes.
10. Follow-up. What is working well? What is not working so great ?

As a Christian, Rev. Gaetane Marshall sees mentoring principles from the wisdom of Biblical principles. Use these thoughts for insight on how you want to show up in your farm or business as a compassionate mentor. People of principle and integrity make fantastic mentors.
-The Barnabus Principle: It’s not about you. You must decrease so another may increase so God can release.
-Free will and Follow Principle: They choose to follow or not. This is not about coercing your successor to be mentored by you.
-The Principle of Exchange: It is a relationship of living giving exchange. Both bring something to the relationship. Many sons would just love their dad/bosses to say “I am proud of you and all that you accomplished here this year !”
-The Elijah and Elisha Principle: The principle of the double portion. Elisha had a servant’s heart, increasing Elijah’s spiritual inheritance . Some farming sons will surpass the growth of the founders, increasing the value of the farm business. Can everyone celebrate this success ?
-The Principle of a Transitioning Figure: rather than a permanent fixture. Mentors are in our lives for a time and a season, they are not meant to be “forever” as at some stage the relationship becomes one of “co-mentoring” each other.
-The Principle of Transparency: We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Compassionate mentors can share failures, and successes.
-The Principle of Sowing and Reaping. This principle is hard-wired into farmers who expect a harvest. What you reap , you will sow, so sow generously.

END
Elaine Froese is blessed with a network of wonderful mentors. She wishes all her readers a very Merry Christmas. Send cards of encouragement to Box 957, Boissevain, MB R0K 0E0 to share your stories. Visit www.elainefroese.com/store to buy her books to encourage your farm family.
Call 1-866-848-8311 for coaching or speaking.

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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.

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“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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