A New World
I was working with a client group today, and the sales guy said, "It feels post-recession to me now. People are starting to relax and decide again."
And I thought – Yes, it feels that way to me, too: post-recession. But like a lot of other "post" things (post-surgical, post-war, post-partum), just because something is over, doesn't mean it's back to the way it was before.
Even though the numbers seem to be going in the right direction (slight drop in unemployment, growth in the GDP for 4th quarter), and people do seem to be "relaxing and deciding again," I'm noticing some pretty significant changes in how business is being done.
Overall, people seem more skittish. People are committing to decisions more provisionally, changing their minds more often, moving things around: schedules, money, people. Less sure.
In part, I think it's healthy – business people seem to be making fewer this-is-the-way-it-has-to-be assumptions about how to move forward. There's more reflection and more conversation about major decisions.
There is a downside to this more fluid approach, though – it can very easily cross the line into unhelpful second-guessing; people not trusting their instincts and experience. I see some folks making a decision, then changing their minds just because it seems scary to commit to anything, when so many people got into so much trouble committing to courses of action a couple of years ago that seemed right to them at the time.
I'm hoping that as we figure out how to navigate in this new world, we can find the middle path: staying open to new alternatives and approaches, while still having the confidence to commit to good, well-thought-out decisions and moving forward on them. I know it's hard – like putting all your weight on a broken leg just out of the cast – but it's the only way you ever get all your strength back and learn to run again.