Archive for February, 2009
I know we're in a recession. I know it's really bad. I know a lot of people have lost their jobs, or their homes, or both.
At the same time, I truly believe the constant barrage of fear-mongering publicity about these facts is at least part of the problem. I spoke to someone yesterday whose business seems to be doing fine – about the same as last year, so far…and she doesn't quite trust it. She's wondering if she should cut back her staff, just in case. Because – you know – isn't everyone headed for trouble?
This reaction, and all that it implies, worries me more than do the actual facts. So, in the name of objectivity, let's turn the statistics around:
- 7.6% unemployment means there's 92.4% employment.
- 1.84% foreclosure filings means 98.16% of homes are not foreclosed.
I'm reminded daily that the only thing to fear is fear itself. Not that we shouldn't be mindful, and careful, and attentive. But fear…fear doesn't help at all.
How can we each keep this in perspective?
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or who’s read more than a couple of posts here — I’m a big fan of being strategic. I believe that if you focus on making the core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future, you’re most likely to create the business, the career, or the life you want.
Over the years, I’ve seen that people who approach their lives in this way are happier, more resilient, and more motivated than the average joe. In fact, most of the truly successful people I know – successful in the sense of having achieved what’s most important to them – are consistently strategic.
People have been asking me lately if I think that’s still true, now that we’re in the middle of these strange times when it seems as though all bets are off and the rules are changing faster than we can write them down. It may seem strange, but I’ve become convinced that in times like this, it’s even more important to approach business and life with a strategic mindset.
Here’s why: difficult situations make us afraid. When we’re afraid, we tend to narrow our focus. We hunker down, mentally and emotionally, and attend to protecting ourselves; we simply try to get through the day. And, so in the eerily applicable words of FDR, it seems to me that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
The alternative? Stay strategic; put aside fear. Take a deep breath and a giant step back; expand your view as opposed to contracting it. Once you do that, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to see your current reality in a clear and balanced way, rather than through the distorting prism of fear. It’s also more likely that you’ll then have the mental bandwidth to think clearly about the future, and to envision the business or career you want to create, on the other side of this difficult passage.
When you’re seeing both the present and the possible future more clearly, you can make the right choices – those core directional choices that are most likely to start you moving and keep you moving toward the future you envision…to get you over, around, or through the difficulties that surround you.
And once you’ve made those core directional choices, I’ve found, they provide a very grounding and comforting map; the anxiety recedes even further, and you can begin to see and to take the specific steps that will to move you in the direction you want to go.
In other words, my point of view is this: true strategy is the antidote to fear.
It’s Valentine’s Day, for those of you who are from another planet. Hearts, flowers, candy, cards.
But let’s expand the frame a bit. How about if – just for the moment – we pretend this is the day for pure, unbounded love.
And let’s posit, for this moment, that pure love is the absolutely wonderful feeling that you are – right now – just fine as you are. That being alive is an astonishing gift, and that simply breathing is a miracle. Let’s suppose that the source of that love is not another person, or how that person feels about you, or what he or she does for you. Let’s suppose that the source of that love is within you, is the energy that sustains you at this very moment.
And finally, let’s suppose that at the instant you’re aware of the warmth of that love shining, vibrating, bubbling up inside you, there’s no room for fear.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
6 Weeks to a Great Webinar | Great web meetings.
More from my friend Wayne Turmel, who is doing a service for the world of work. How many of you have been part of a bad webinar? OK, you can all put your hands back down now.
I think we all know intuitively that the web could be a great venue for meetings and seminars…we just haven't quite figured it out yet. Wayne is trying to do something about that. His company, Great Web Meetings, focuses on giving people the skills, understanding, and tools to create productive and engaging meetings on the web.
Since it seems clear that more and more meetings are going to be conducted at least partly online, it makes sense for us all to get better at doing it.
And I just found out from him this morning that he's created a new workbook to makes these ideas more widely available (that's the link above). Check it out! Or come to his next webcast, learn a bunch, and get the book, too.
OK, maybe it's a weird thing to say, but I really love my company. I love the work we do, the fact that we practice what we preach, and that we actually help our clients create the businesses and the lives they want. I'm even extremely fond of our clients (though some of my more manly-man clients would probably be embarrassed to hear me say that).
But most of all I love, respect, admire and like my colleagues. Last week we had one of our regular all-Proteus meetings. We've done them yearly since the company began in 1990, and this year it looks like we're going to meet twice, given expansion, the new book being published, etc.
This one was the best ever. I was so impressed with the quality of the thinking and conversation, the level of honesty and humor, and the practical outcomes – work that will help us all operate better together and serve our clients more thoroughly.
Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure – hope this gives you a feeling for the meeting and for us.
I especially like the one above – this is our admin staff demonstrating to us how they operate seamlessly.
And to all my team mates…thank you so much.
So much doom and gloom, everywhere you look. But there's a whole other side of the story we're not hearing: some companies – especially small ones – are finding ways to prosper and thrive.
Inc. magazine is putting on a conference in March specifically focused on how to be one of those companies – the ones that continue to grow in these tough times.
I'm very excited that they've invited me to be one of the speakers at this conference – I think it's going to be engaging, useful, and fun. My top three favorite qualities.
The link above will take you to the website, so you can check it out, and sign up if it appeals.