Values are our cherished beliefs and have a huge impact on our behavior. If your life activity is aligned with your values, then you likely look forward to how 2015 plays out. If you aren’t getting what you need and cherish, then you are likely highly frustrated.
Lance Woodbury is the author of The Enduring Legacy: Essential Family Business Values, a book of business value validation. My consulting friend Dick Wittman gives a copy of this book to each farm family he coaches. I’ve outlined the list of values Woodbury writes about and added my own thoughts.
- Reflection – Reading in a comfy spot with a fleece blanket in winter is a great time to reflect on what you really want to focus and execute in 2015. How many people just stop to ponder and reflect? Thinking about your farm and family goals is a good practice. Those who reflect and delay responding before sharing their thoughts are likely the wisest people around us.
- Honest conversation is a value I hold high. I know this because I have completed the values indicator assessment online which clarified my top seven values. If people are not honest with me, I have a hard time investing in the relationship.
- Listening is a huge gift. Be debt-free and give a different kind of gift to your family this year. Carve out a date night with your spouse and just listen. We have two ears and only one tongue for a reason.
- Vision is the guiding overall picture of where we want our farms to be in the future. Is your vision leaving the farm in the family and creating a legacy? If visions are different between the generations, there will be procrastination about transition agreements, and things will get stuck.
- Progress is the sense of accomplishment that makes people feel good about hard work. When you look back on 2014, are you energized by what you accomplished as a team?
- “We” knowledge is valuing the corporate wisdom of your group, not judging or deferring to the experience of one person. Agriculture’s technology demands a mindset of learning and embracing the knowledge that we all can share.
- Outside advisers are valued by successful farm families who know when to ask for outside expertise to help build their roadmap for transition. Shave some dollars off the fertilizer budget to get a great accountant, financial planner and legal expert. Solid financial foundations support growth.
- Inclusion means you value all the voices of the farm family at the decision-making table. It also speaks to embracing diversity and not being threatened by people to see the world a little bit differently than you do.
- Waiting is a very rare value these days. Millennials don’t have loyalty to one employer, they want lots of time off, and they don’t have the word “save” in their vocabulary, according to David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber. Good things come to those who wait.
- Learning is one of my core values as a lifelong learner. You’ve probably guessed I like to read a lot of books. Learning is also a mindset Marilee Adams encourages in her choice map; it trumps the negative path called the “judger mindset.”
- Reconciliation is a key driver for families to find healing from conflict and make things right. If you choose to be reconciled to all those in your community, then you will likely have a wonderful life because you choose to keep short accounts and make amends when it depends on you to reconcile.
- Conflict is a normal part of life that can give huge insight when the fighting or disagreements are open to working toward finding the common interests or common ground that meets everyone’s needs. Finding new conflict language to help you resolve the stress and drama of fighting on your farm is a great goal.
- Exposure to new ideas and different cultures helps us learn another perspective, to see things from a different light. Travel to another culture or ask more probing questions about the family norms of your in-laws.
- Vulnerability is the willingness to share our true selves with others without fear of judgment. It is very risky to do this with people you do not trust, but I think being vulnerable is a shortcut to deeper longer-lasting relationships as you share the core of your soul, emotions, mind and will.
- Certitude is the value of needing certainty in our daily journey. This is what young farmers and growing families are looking for when they ask for signed agreements and life insurance to ensure their spouse’s future is looked after.
- Peer sharing is a sign of being secure enough in your own well-being not to worry if someone else gains from sharing knowledge or process. I experience this yearly at my professional speaker conference, where complete strangers become advocates of new business strategies and are happy to share what has worked well for them.
- Forgiveness is a model some families have lost. They don’t know how to reach out and ask if there has been an offense. Nor do they offer to change their behavior or make things right. Being forgiven for mistakes on the farm will set the offender free to be more responsible in the future and less self-criticizing.
- Managing transitions is a huge task that seems endless. If you value change, then you will find a way to let go and navigate the new chapter. What transitions are likely for your farm and your family this year?
- Giving generously is highly valued by those whose storehouse is full, and they see great joy in looking after the needs of the less fortunate. Are you a giver?
- Tackling tough issues is a value of not walking away when tough things need addressing.
- Thankfulness with an attitude of gratitude helps us count our blessings and be content.
- Service is being kind and civil with acts that meet the needs of others. Volunteers in rural communities may be aging, but I would argue that many young people in our community love to serve once they are asked and given some direction where they can make a difference. PD
Elaine Froese is a lifelong learner who coaches farm families by Skype from her farm in Manitoba. Her three books can be found on her website.