A recent conversation with a client (let’s call her Kelly) got me to thinking about the word legacy – rather the meaning of the word. Legacy is a word we use pretty frequently in agriculture these days, pairing it alongside other words such as succession, sustainability, and transition. I’m glad we’re talking legacy and working to make conscious choices about how we plan and transfer businesses to the next generation. Yet, what is a legacy? That’s the topic Kelly and I discussed because, in her circumstance, she and her husband found themselves having to change their definition of what legacy actually meant.
After coming home to the farm rather unexpectedly (her Dad passed away mid-harvest season), they were almost 8 years into an ‘arrangement’ with her uncle and aunt. There had always been ‘an understanding’ but not an actual plan. The understanding seemed to be understood differently by everyone involved. Kelly and her husband desperately wanted to make a move –literally. While they wanted to stay in farming, they knew it would not be with her relatives. The problem was she had promised her dad that they would carry on his ‘legacy’ and she felt beholden to do that. And she wanted to, but the situation had gotten ugly. A younger cousin also decided to come back and join in with them (not that Kelly had been asked about it…). Finally, they made the decision to leave and during the course of a year, the assets were split up and they moved two hours away to set up shop on fresh earth. That was four years ago and Kelly shared it was the best decision she ever made.
But what of legacy? Kelly has come to realize that legacy doesn’t necessarily mean a place, a location, or even a farm. It is about carrying on many things, whatever matters to you, in a way that you can honor a person best. Kelly and her husband are better farmers today. Her kids are getting involved and will have something they can potentially return to. The best part, they are happy. That is what her dad would have wanted.
One way to learn more and engage with others on this topic is to meet up at Top Producer Summit in Chicago Jan. 27-30, 2020. Join me there, I’ll be keynoting for the Tomorrow’s Top Producer general session and offering two breakouts, one for EWA and one for Top Producer Seminar.
Click HERE to register.
ACT Like A Pro Out There!
Sarah Beth Aubrey