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The Gift of Healing Stories

“It is well-known in management that the creation and maintenance of a positive emotional state is key to performance, and positive feedback is a powerful tool. When done appropriately, it may not only add to motivation, satisfaction, and performance at work but also to the quality of working relationships.” -Pierrette Desrosiers Psycoaching.

Pierrette believes, as I do, that positive feedback and pointing out good actions is essential to creating a healthier culture in our farm teams. Pouzer and Koutes authored “Encouraging the Heart of Your Business” that echoes the same theme. It’s time for our tribes to create more healing stories in agriculture. It is time to encourage families to do the patient work of transition with joyful outcomes.

Creating More Healing Stories in Ag

One dairy farmer shared the way his family met with a facilitator when he was in his mid-fifties. He and his brother were able to set up a structure for the future that satisfied each family business partner’s different needs. The group listening to his story leaned forward in rapt attention. It was a rare occasion, listening to a healing journey and not the usual chaotic tale with a bad ending.

Coaches use a technique of asking folks to be future-focused and “paint a picture of what an awesome future would look like saying: “Describe that to me.” What does a good day on the farm look like for you in 2020? Is your spouse aware of what you are thinking, feeling, needing, and wanting? And do you know their picture of a happy life in the family business?

Healing Stories - Happy Farmer

Making Changes in 2020

Change is inevitable; growth is optional. BD0’s Brent VanParys, the Business Transition Services Specialist, quips about the founder who likes to be “large and in charge.” The dictator-like leadership style for farm managers is not a healing story. If you are comforted by sameness, you are likely not ready to embrace a new mindset on your farm team. This make it difficult to develop a plan for the next generation to take on management roles successfully.

If you adopt a positive attitude and openness to learning new ways of running the farm, you will have support along the way. Many next-generation farmers have peer networks and share information freely. Being a life-long learner is a wonderful adventure for growth. Name three things about your farm team member that you appreciate. Create a story that shows an example or word picture to illustrate why that trait or action gives you peace and joy about the future of your farm. What healing stories do you want to see on your farm?

Writing Letters of Appreciation

As we move farther into the new year, I’d like to challenge you to take a risk. Take the time to give gifts to those you love that won’t cost money. It will only cost you your time and attention. I challenge you to write heartfelt letters to all the important people in your life. How would it look if you wrote a heartfelt letter expressing your appreciation for others part in your success on the farm? It can be the first step for more healing stories.

healing stories - write a letter

Here are some sample letters.

Son

Dear Son,

I am so grateful that you have decided to become the next manager of our farm business. It is a delight to see you using the skills you have accumulated to grow our sales, marketing, and create stronger customer relationships. Mom and I are very proud of your work and the person of integrity that you are. Your focus, ability to execute work plans, and attention to detail are marvelous. We are confident that the future of our farm is bright. We rejoice that we can celebrate gains in our business, and richness of relationship. Let us know the things that you would like us to do differently. We are open to your feedback because we know that your intention is not to cause harm or offense but to help us all be better.

Thank you for your patience in this transition journey as we continue to meet, seek new options, and make wise decisions for the legacy of the farm business. We’ll have many more opportunities with our advisors to build out our future goals.

We love you dearly,
Dad and Mom.

Daughter

Dear Daughter,

It’s been a joy to watch you in action now that you are back from ag. college. It is great to see you working full-time with our farm team. We are deeply thankful for your ability to navigate the challenges of working in a conservative environment with courage, strength, and confidence as a woman in agriculture. I look forward to your ideas for growth and legacy as we transition shares of the company to you and your spouse. We also realize there can be a deep sense of overwhelm when you want to give 110% to the farm and at the same time, raise strong, healthy children. Let us know how we can support you more effectively in the many roles you are carrying. Please help us to see options that suit the realities of life in 2020. It is vital to us that you feel heard and that you sense that you aligned with what is truly important to you.

Thank you for being clear, honest, and transparent about your fears. It helps us process the approach we need to navigate with your non-farm siblings. We are also thankful for a forum in business meetings to keep family issues and concerns in a separate circle from the farm’s agenda. Our business serves all of our families. We are deeply blessed with the richness of relationship with you.

We love you dearly,
Dad and Mom.

Sibling and In-Law

Dear Brother/Sister and Sister in Law/Brother in Law,

It’s been an amazing 30-year ride with you on this farm. It seems like just yesterday that Dad and Mom handed over the reins to us. We’d like to say a heartfelt thanks to you for agreeing to find a new structure for the business that allows each of our families to separate our enterprises with a spirit of collaboration and harmony for the future. Our meetings with our trusted advisors have been a great investment and helped us to get better sleep, knowing that future plans will unfold with few surprises. Have a great winter down south. We’ll keep in touch on FaceTime and see you for a round of golf.

Sincerely,
Your favourite and only brother/sister!

Impossible to craft these letters? I think not. You’ve got a script to get your creative juices going and make it your own story. You’ll see amazing results! Here’s to an abundance of healing stories in ag. for 2020!

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
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
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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