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What Are Your Calluses Worth?

What Are Your Calluses Worth?

| November 16, 2021

It’s that time of year when families get together, laugh, tell stories, and eat too much. And like most holiday movies, some of it is remembered fondly all year - and some of it you just grit your teeth to get through. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, I want to bring a challenge to you this holiday season.

If you have enjoyed some success and have a family, I can bet there has been a time or two when you have asked yourself “will my family remain successful after I am gone?” So maybe the question for you is…

  • …will my family be able to run the ranch?
  • …will my family be able to carry on the business?
  • …will my hard-earned dollars be used for something that will make a difference in my family’s lives?
  • …will my family be able to manage the success I built?

Better yet: does my family even know what the heck they are doing if I keel over?

The funny thing is we always consider those questions in light of the assets, operations, or money involved. While those are all very important, it wasn’t what you got you where you are today. No, it was your calluses.

The most important thing you can pass on to your family are your calluses. Calluses earned through the literal blood, sweat, and tears that got you to where you are now.

How did you get to where you are? What did you learn the hard way? What was the dumb luck you had? What would have happened if you didn’t have it? What were the best decisions you made and why? What were the worst ones? What did you learn from them? Your faith—where did you find it? What challenged it? Why have you kept it?

We spend so much time figuring out how to transition a business and money, but what about the foundation? If you fail to transfer that, what happens when something goes amiss? Because it will.

When a patriarch and matriarch tell me they want to start working to get the ______ (fill in the blank) to the kids, we begin by asking a question: Why haven’t you already?

The answer is pretty much the same for everyone and it relates to the same thing when people retire. They want to retire - but more importantly, they want to stay retired… successfully.

The same applies when you are transferring a business or assets to your children. You want to do it and more importantly, you want to do it in a way that is sustainable.

A good foundation makes this possible. The foundation built on your calluses. So, what are you doing to transfer your calluses?  Are you taking time to share the stories with your family? Are you passing down your wisdom? What is important to you? Why is it important? Have you shared this with your kids?

You have heard us use the term—shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. In other words:

Generation #1 has the calluses from starting the business;

Generation #2 grew up in the business and knew how the calluses were formed, but wanted it to be better [translated: easier] for…

Generation #3.

Which is why 90% of businesses fail by the third generation. The calluses are long gone and there is no foundation for these businesses to fall back on.

So back to your challenge for this holiday season: How can you transfer your calluses? Maybe it’s through stories or playing games with your grandchildren, teaching them some life lessons along the way. Maybe it’s writing a letter your kids or grandkids. Maybe it’s subscribing to something like StoryWorth that can help you write out your real legacy.

Everyone has their “uphill both ways” stories, historically most often from “The Dads.” The family will laugh about it on the surface, but the stories stick in their hearts and minds and help form the beginnings of their own calluses. Perhaps the most valuable thing you will leave to them. Don’t let them die with you!