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  • Jerry Phillips

Lessons Learned

For the past ten months I’ve worked to sell the family farmstead. Not the entire farm, but the house and other buildings on the eight acres that they sit on. It has been much more difficult to coordinate than I thought it would have been. Between the pandemic lockdown, and a few legal issues, and the ability to clean the things accumulated over the past 50 years, the process has been a drain. We close tomorrow, selling it to a great young family that live across the road from the farm. They have a thriving business and will use the house, barn, and corrals for their business. They have treated my mother so graciously over the past several years, that it feels like we are selling it to extended family.

I’m not a sentimental person. I tend to see things as learning experiences and move on. I believe I tend to bury my emotional responses by seeing things as a project and putting my head down and do the work. This has been no exception. However, as we come to the closing, I have had time to reflect. I only lived in that house for ten years, but they were impactful on my future. We had some negative things happen, and some incredibly positive things happen there. I remember seeing my dad with fear in his face as he woke me up to run to the basement as a tornado struck. I remember building a fort in the hay mound and playing with my brother there. I remember the thrill of coming home from basketball camp to find that my uncle had hung a basketball goal in the barn so I could play year-round. There are a lot of memories that have come to me. A lot of lessons I’ve learned in a short ten-year window.

We have moved multiple times to houses in different cities and I have memories of each of the houses, but the memories are triggered by thinking of the experiences, not tied to the houses. We have been blessed to have great family experiences and great business experiences in each location. I’m not tied to the physical presence of a house. I’m tied to the learnings in each location.

When I work with clients, too often they are locked into the way things were done in the past. They take the work we do and try to make it fit what they have always done. To truly transform the business, they must walk away from past and create something new for the future. It’s not easy. There is a strong pull to stay with what they have always done. Even if it isn’t getting the results, it’s comfortable. Unless there is some traumatic event that forces change, it’s easier to tweak what they are doing instead of ripping off the band aid. The pandemic and the recession have given some of our clients the impetus to make dramatic changes.

What are the lessons your company has learned from the past? What are you holding on to that has “sentimental” attachments, and what are you letting go of? Strength always comes from overcoming adversity.

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