My distaste for excuses developed during my eleven years as head coach for the high school track team. Just when I thought I had heard every excuse imaginable, someone would come up with a new one. I started out every season by handing each of the athletes a packet of information. After the first few years the packet included a list of ninety-nine excuses that I had heard before, and I didn’t want to hear again.
These are some of my “favorite” excuses from my athletes: I ate too much. I did not eat enough. I didn’t have enough time to warm up. I warmed up too much. I didn’t get enough sleep. I slept too much. I had a bad start. I had a bad finish. I forgot my shoes. I can’t run when I’m behind. I can’t run when I’m ahead. I drank too much pop yesterday. I had to go to the bathroom. It was too cold. It was too hot. I was getting a blister. I went out too fast. I didn’t go out fast enough. I was saving myself for the next race. It was too windy. I couldn’t breathe because it was too still. Yikes! Stop the excuses!
My goodness, how could there be so many different reasons for not doing well? I really came to appreciate the athletes who just went out to compete and did their best without excuses. They were just plain honest. If they had not performed as well, they accepted the results of their performance without excuse. Even though they were frustrated, they held themselves accountable for their performance rather than make an excuse.
I sometimes see the same thing in the farming community. I would like to think that all farm families are proactively planning their future, and yet farm after farm, and situation after situation, I realize that people are very willing to make an excuse for not having their estate and farm continuation plan properly addressed.
Here are some of the excuses I’ve heard from farm families: I’m too old. I’m not old enough. I have too much land. I don’t have enough land. My kids won’t fight. My kids always fight. We’ll do it after harvest. We’ll do it after planting. We will do it after taxes. We will do it after vacation. We will do it after the election. We need to talk with our kids first. I already met with my attorney. I just bought some insurance. I just went to some workshops. We will let the kids figure it out after we’re gone. I’ll let my spouse figure it out after I’m gone. We will decide after land prices stop going up.
The real translation is, “I am making excuses because I do not what to deal with it.”
As a high school coach, I wondered how long those kids would keep coming up with new excuses as they went through life. I assumed that someday they would grow out of their “excuse making stage” and would be willing to be held accountable for their actions. Now I have come to realize that many people will simply make excuses their entire life. Naturally there are times to legitimately “postpone” the planning, but most of the time that is not the case.
So, where does your farm fit in? Have you procrastinated and made excuses for not establishing a true farm continuation plan? I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but I do have goals for my life. One of those goals is simply to accept responsibility for managing what I have and making plans for distributing my estate the way I would like it distributed…no excuses.