Red Flag! Ignorance is not bliss!

Sometimes I "see red." It is frustration and even anger when intentional ignorance or abuse is at hand…and then I see a red flag which shouts "Wake up!" or "Stop it!" 

During one of my presentations for women in agriculture, I mentioned, "by the way, if you are ever are told by your spouse, 'Don't worry your pretty little head about this. I'll take care of things,' that's a red flag!" 

Upon arriving back to my office and farm in Iowa, my phone began to ring. I had no idea how that one insight from my presentation would lead to the sharing of so many stories, fears and concerns.

Not knowing something you need or want to know may create more than worry - it may create major stress and scary results.

I know of two specific instances where "keeping that information" from a spouse was a guise for hiding the real financial dealings and debt of the business. In another case, it was the guise to hide wealth invested in his name only, rather than her expectation of joint ownership.

In the scary situations, it was the guise for power and control over someone else. In other words, "Keep her in the dark, insecure and unstable. Then I control her." Dr. Bev Smallwood, a friend, psychologist and author of the book,This Wasn't Supposed to Happen to Me! says,"Manipulative control by deliberately keeping a person uninformed and off balance is emotional abuse."

Knowledge is power and ignorance is not bliss. If we truly want to honor a relationship and a business, respectful sharing of important information is key. It also creates an opportunity to honor those actively working in the business and assures a basic understanding if something happens to the spouse.

Each Christmas I ask my husband for one gift - two hours of his time between Christmas and New Year's Day. I ask to sit side-by-side and go through those two drawers of the office fire file so he could educate me on the contents. Oh yes, access is always available for me and he's not kept things from me. Yet I know in the deep darkness of those drawers are important documents that affect the farm - abstracts, contracts, titles, tile maps, photos for insurance documentation, business agreements and so much more. It's important to designate time to listen and to learn.

My heart and head fill when I have the privilege to speak at women in agriculture events. We laugh and we learn. Trust builds, and stories are told. Lessons are shared. I'll not forget the tremor in one attendee's voice nor her painful tears. "It's been a year since my husband died, and I'm still mad. Mad at him because he never explained things and left me with a real mess, and mad at myself for not asking questions."

Dr. Smallwood adds, "Every woman should take responsibility for asking, not assuming; for learning, not blindly delegating. It's time to do that now."

So, let me ask you, my sisters in agriculture, are we ignorant of important information because we don't ask? Because we don't think we need to know? Or because we aren't included in the knowing?  And do we share the important information of our realm? After all, worry and control can go both ways.

Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch, Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best practices that have the power to increase productivity, profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. For more information and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at, 

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