[This blog entry was originally published January 9, 2009 and contains an update.]
When the going gets tough…You know the rest of the cliché…but what does it mean to “get going?” One thing not to do is to spend too much time listening to the same bad news over and over…or spending too much time around the water cooler (or wherever people congregate these days) bemoaning the state of the global economy. This brings on that other cliché, “Misery loves company.” All we do is whip ourselves up into a greater state of panic. I think there is another cliché that is much more useful. The Chinese ideogram for “Crisis” is made up of those for “Danger” and “a crucial point when something begins to change.” I’m not suggesting living in a dream world and ignoring the danger. I am suggesting that when it comes to macro-economics, we can’t do much so why waste energy and time yammering on about the dire state of things. In fact, successful people have always figured out that the way to deal with a crisis is to look at the “opportunity” side of the equation, recognizing that it’s time to change, and put our energies there. In 1787 in the U.S., the headlines would seem eerily like those in 2009 – Foreclosures ruin families…Inflation rises…Violence increases…Hostile countries waiting for collapse…congress deadlocked…
Just 4 years after the end of the American Revolution the country was collapsing and Britain, France, and Spain were circling the imminent road kill waiting to seize the tastiest morsels. Luckily George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and 51 others decided to commit treason (technically) for the second time. They assembled in Philadelphia for 4 months in that long hot summer and hammered out the new Constitution. They could have stayed home and watched their families suffer, their businesses fail, and the government flail about. Instead, they looked at the crucial point and began the change. They seized the opportunity to create a powerful plan for change…to put all of their ideas of republican government to work…to create a large republic from scratch…It hadn’t been done before…They were in new territory, ripe for change. So whether you’re an individual and have just lost your job or an entrepreneur struggling to stay afloat or a large company or institution getting ready to make drastic budget cuts…Stop for a moment. What opportunities are there for you? What are you uniquely qualified to take advantage of? What is being overlooked by all the others who are focused on the danger? [The Wall Street Journal found organizations, which innovated and seized opportunities, survived and even thrived during the Pandemic.] Many years ago I worked for a big corporation that had a major downsizing…The folks who thrived in this crisis were those who took the opportunity to reexamine their lives, their values, and their goals and strike off in new directions. These are the non-victims. The choice is yours. You can take your role model from the Framers and embrace opportunity or from those people the media dig up who are circling the drain, hopeless and helpless. [It’s your choice; succumb to danger and drown in doubt or embrace innovation, kickstart change, and thrive.
Labels: crisis, danger, economy, George Washington, James Madison, opportunity