Millions of businesses closed down during the coronavirus pandemic, never to open again.
How many of these businesses accepted defeat and closed their doors without a fight?
How many of these businesses could have survived and flourished if their leaders had been willing to fight their way through their challenges?
A story of defeat.
I recently consulted to a manufacturing company that had it’s back to the wall despite the fact that it operated within a sector with a very bright future. However, it wasn’t the crisis that killed the business but the defeatist attitude of its leaders.
My first contact with the business was in April 2021 and it was clear that the business was in trouble. After some discussion, I presented a proposal which was rejected as the company was considering another strategy. I wished them well and went on my way.
I followed up in October 2021 to find out how the other strategy was working out for them; they hadn’t implemented it! In fact, they had done nothing to improve their situation and, as is common when fear takes hold, had actually made decisions to worsen their situation. A month later, mid-November 2021, they accepted my proposal but six precious months had been lost. And although my team and I were willing to work through the Christmas break to set up a winning game for January 2022, everyone in the company was going on leave!
That’s like taking a break in the middle of a war while the enemy is still fighting.
Is it any wonder that, as January 2022 dawned full of hope and promise for the sector, this company was on the brink of collapse, unable to meet its obligations to staff and suppliers?
Is it a fight worth fighting?
The first thing to establish is where your business is heading;
- Through a Dip,
- Over a Cliff or
- Into a Cul-de-sac.
(from Seth Godin’s great little book “The Dip”)
Given the sector’s bright prospects in the example above, the company was only going through a management-induced Dip!
If it is a Dip, the next thing we need to establish is whether we are willing to do things differently in response to the challenges we are experiencing. We do well to heed Albert Einstein’s advice;
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
And think differently we must because, as Einstein also pointed out,
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
And finally, having settled the question about the Dip and our willingness to think differently, we must decide if we have the vision, commitment and discipline to fight our way through the Dip and onto the sunlit mountain top on the other side.
Be warned! It might be a long haul.
What can you see on the other side of your crisis?
Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off the goal. (Henry Ford)
Lift your eyes above the obstacle and what do you see?
- A sunlit mountain top?
- A great chasm of empty nothingness?
- A box canyon with looming walls on all sides?
Proceed if you can see a sunlit mountain top on the other side of the Dip. Change direction if you are headed for a Cliff or into a Cul-de-sac.
But before you decide what you can see, consider your vantage point.
If you are grinding your way through a leach-infested river in a jungle, chances are that you can’t see much further than a few metres either way.
What do you do?
You have three basic options;
- Check out a map for a suitable route.
- Climb a tree to get a better vantage point.
- Consult a guide who knows the way to the mountain.
If you are mired in the daily grind of working ‘in your business’, make time to elevate your emotions and to gain a better perspective of your challenges and the possibilities to overcome them.
Obstacles or stepping stones?
Finally, I would like to leave you with one affirmation I say every day that empowers me to search for possible solutions rather than ruminating about the problems.
I am optimistic that I can turn all obstacles into stepping stones to my success.
There are basically three ways to turn an obstacle into stepping stones to your success;
- Go over it; build a ramp and the top becomes a stepping stone.
- Go around it; blast a piece off and turn them into stepping stones.
- Go through it, blast it to pieces and the remains are your stepping stones.
Talk to me if you need a guide. In forty years of business, I’ve been through my fair share of Dips and survived to tell the tale.