They claim that I want to take the business and have embezzled millions.
This has pained me a lot. It has eroded my trust in people and I don’t
know what to do. Please help
Q: Eight years ago, my father-in-law asked me to help him manage his struggling agro-business since his three sons were not keen on it. I resigned from a well-paying job and put all my managerial skills in turning around the business.
I didn’t at that time wish to become a shareholder because I perceived myself as a salaried manager. I managed it like it was my own. Last year, he passed on and to my surprise everyone in the family, apart from wife, turned against me.
They claim that I want to take the business and have embezzled millions. This has pained me a lot. It has eroded my trust in people and I don’t know what to do. Please help.
I don’t know how old you are, but this could turn out to be the most expensive lesson you will learn in your life. Lazy in-laws will always treat those who marry their sisters the way you have been treated.
If you think about it carefully, the only reason your father-in-law picked you to help him, is precisely because he had no confidence in his own sons.
Now that he is out of the way, his lazy sons have come from the woodwork and will accuse you of all manner of things.
If they are reading from the standard script, they will take over the business, sell it off, and in a few years, go back to their comfort zones (of subsistence existence, oiled with cheap alcohol), and on their way to mediocrity accuse you of having neglected the business after their father died.
Sadly, there is not much you can do to reverse the current situation, because you do not seem to have a legal claim to the business, and other than learn the lessons regarding lazy in-laws, you must now get up, dust yourself, and promise yourself never to make this kind of mistake ever again.
ALL IS NOT LOST
Two things about you give me hope that all is not lost. The first is the fact that you sound like a person with the capacity for compassion.
The fact that you went out of your way to enable your father-in-law achieve his dreams is highly commendable.
You sound like a caring, selfless individual who acted in a noble way with respect to your father-in-law. (The fact that you did not anticipate what is before you today is another matter).
Secondly, you are a skilled person. The fact that you were able to turn the business around, and build a profitable business tells me that you have an asset or assets that your in-laws cannot take away from you.
Look at it this way, your father-in-law saw in you a bright, hardworking, honest man, take pride in that. Before you started off with your father-in-law, you were a salaried employee who had (presumably) not run a business before.
In the years that the two of you built the business, he would have introduced you to the entire universe of those who are key players in the agro-business.
Take stock of the things you have learnt. You now know all the important bankers, government people, fertiliser suppliers, key markets, important labour challenges in the industry and many other things you did not know, and would never have known had your father-in-law not given you the chance to work with him.
With this positive frame of mind, you deny yourself the luxury of expending time and energy with negative thoughts and preoccupations.
Rather than thinking about how you have lost trust in people, and how you might get your revenge on your in-laws who accuse you of things you did not do, focus your mind on the joys of having a wife who has stood by you and who is able and willing to support you as you venture into the future together.
Focus also on the fact that during his time with you, your father-in-law knew and trusted you enough to expose you to all the contacts that you now have.
Focus on the fact that you are not now starting from scratch, but fully educated in the ways of agribusiness.
You will be surprised how effective a change in attitude can be. In a technique we call Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), emphasis is laid on the relationship between thoughts and their effects on feelings.
If you wake up thinking “this is going to be a lousy day” then chances are that you will go through the day feeling lousy just the way you thought you would.
If you wake up planning to make the day a real success, then you have a real chance it will. This method is used to great effect in treating depression in clinical practice.
So, if you can change your mindset from the bad done by your in-laws to the benefits of the lessons you learnt from your father- in-law, you are on the right track.