This article first appeared on Elaine Froese.
This summer I am looking forward to playing with my husband on the lake in our new “banana yellow” kayak. We found one that is kind to his back and allows us to have small children floating with us. It will be lots of fun, even when someone gets goofy and decides to swamp the floater!
Of course, there is also an entirely different meaning behind “rock the boat” – meaning to stick up for yourself with words or actions even when it may cause an uproar from those around you. Is it time for you to rock the boat? Let me share some stories from my coaching experiences.
Should I Rock the Boat?
Recently, a ranch woman confessed to me that she was too afraid to “rock the boat” and speak up for her sense of self-worth and value. She was talking about the transfer of shares from the founder to her husband, but not to her, after 20 years of marriage and proving her worth on the farm team. Her only regret is that she did not speak up and give voice to the disappointment of not being listed as a shareholder of her farm. That was more than 15 years ago! She is still not a shareholder. Because she didn’t want to “rock the boat,” her sweat equity has gone unrecognized.
Another example came to me in an email from an ecstatic farm woman who announced that the “final straw” for her aging mom was when the mom discovered that she could not access the family’s phone accounts since her name was not on the account. She decided to rock the boat through a series of happy and challenging events. She met with a lawyer to update wills and get her name on land titles. She created a life estate to live securely on the farm until she decides to move to town. And she had a family meeting with her farm heirs. WHEW! She rocked the boat and had a happy ending to her story. Is her husband happy? We’ll leave that to him. She is. Her farming daughter is also happy that the tough conversations led to implementing a farm transfer plan that gives her family more certainty over their future. The catalyst for this action was a few phone coaching sessions to explore how to “rock the boat” gently.
As a final example, I coached a very generous, gracious hard-working farm woman who was angry that she had no idea how wealthy she was when her husband was living. Now, as a widow in poor health, she really can’t enjoy her wealth, but she is thankful for adult children who have used her gifts wisely for their businesses. She has used a team of advisors: financial planner, coach, and lawyer to understand her net worth and to secure enough income stream for her aging years. She thought that a cruise on a very large boat with her family would be a great way to celebrate her good fortune. Reports are back: they had a blast!
Is It Time for You to Rock the Boat?
Rocking the boat starts with research. Make a request. Ask to see the financial records of your family and business. Many women are the financial gatekeepers of the farm, which is great when they have that skill and passion. What about the visits to the accountant and the financial planner or brokers? Is your voice heard in that office? You can use the gracious, gentle approach to seeking out a clearer understanding of your financial position and security.
The boat doesn’t have to sink, even when rocked. Conflict is not bad; unresolved conflict is bad. Try to see courageous conversations about money as a way to get clarity and resolution to the secrets or mysteries of your financial story. Many wonderful farm folks are avoiding the issue of getting their documents, such as wills and power of attorney, in order because they don’t want a fight. Fighting can be re-worked into collaborative conflict so that everyone has a voice in the final decision.
Rocking the Boat = Taking Control of Your Financial Destiny
The Globe and Mail reported in May that as many as 50% of folks don’t have wills. Yikes! Philip Porado did a piece on this tragedy and commented: “Say this phrase out loud, “The federal and provincial governments know exactly how I want my assets handed down and are fully aware of my preferred choices for philanthropy.” Unless that phrase is 100 percent true, buckle down and start determining your wishes today.”
Taking control of your financial destiny and talking openly about what money means to you is a great way to model financial independence to your children. Buy a copy of Moolala: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things with Their Money by Bruce Sellery.
I know a woman who became very ill with a stress-induced disease and died. I suspect that severe financial stress on the farm was part of her demise. When you decrease financial stress with good habits, honest conversations, and action, you make positive steps to being healthier. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Your health is your wealth.” So what are you waiting for?
Make the call today to your financial institution to see if you can converse with a financial planner at the branch or use a fee-for-service financial planner. Clear out your office papers and get the important documents organized in one place. Your executor will thank you. I just did this with my sister. I know what it means to execute an estate and, as her executor, I want my job to be as easy as possible. Ask your daughter to help you, and celebrate the end of clutter! Do a personal net worth statement. You can find an easy checklist online or talk to your financial advisor.
Be happy. We have flush toilets, running water, and warm homes. We are richer than we think, and most of the world would love to be in our boat.
A ship that is moving can be steered, so get moving. It’s time to rock the boat by taking control of your financial destiny.