There is an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”. It seems that the whole world has fallen under that curse. The situation changes on a daily basis and the news is full of COVID-19 bad news stories. People are incredibly fearful, witness the empty shelves in the supermarkets and fights breaking out over toilet paper. I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t understand it. But what I do know is that fear doesn’t have to win. It’s a choice we each make every day, all day. We can’t change our environment, but we can choose how we respond to it.
I want to turn tables on this ancient curse if I may, because one thing I have learnt is that every threat can also be an opportunity. I remember back to my uni days, learning how to do SWOT analysis. That’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I always struggled with it because I always felt compelled to put the same things in the Opportunities and Threats squares. I just can’t get past the concept that every Threat is also an Opportunity.
By no means do I want to trivialise what you are facing at the moment, nor do I want to minimise the pain you are feeling. These things are real. But I want to encourage you to look at the other side of the coin.
It seems to me that the business world is entering a bleak winter. The winds are howling, and the forecast is that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The weatherman often gets it wrong, and how awesome would it be if that were true in this case. But even if he doesn’t get it wrong, winter isn’t always bad. In fact, some plants need winter so that they can produce fruit in spring and summer. This is why the best roses and the best citrus grow in colder climates. They need to rest during the winter. Producing fruit takes a lot of effort. It is very taxing on the tree or bush and if it doesn’t have winter to rest, the plant would die.
How many of us have said something like, “No way, we can’t be halfway through March already!” I have to keep reminding myself that we are in the year 2020. Where did the 2010’s go? This year has been speeding by faster than any before. Maybe that’s true for you. Now I know we aren’t bushes or trees, but we still need to rest. I’m not talking necessarily about sitting down in front of the TV and vegging out, although that’s not a bad idea! I’m talking about resting from our normal daily grind. Yep, I’m talking about stopping producing fruit. We, as human beings, to remain productive, need to take time out from producing fruit.
Of course, there are other plants that die in winter. They don’t have the capacity to rest and rejuvenate but instead can’t cope without the sunlight and warmth they need to survive. The good news is, as human beings, we aren’t stuck being one type of plant. We can change and adapt. They say a leopard can’t change its spots. I thank God I’m not a leopard! I’ve survived a failed business and a failed corporate career. The career and business failed, but I didn’t. I learnt, changed, and hopefully grew.
Maybe, just maybe, if we take some time out, we will come up with a truly brilliant idea to move our business in a new and fruitful direction. Or, maybe we will have time to write those procedures, or read some inspiring non-fiction business journal, or catch up on some other aspect of your business that normally gets set aside while you go and produce fruit.
There’s so much more I want to share with you, so until next week, stay safe and stay in touch. We’re here to help you in whatever way we can.
If you haven’t watched it already, Cheryl Stainsby gave some great tips on how you can use this time for preparation on our live Facebook feed this week. Visit www.facebook.com/redlandscoastchamber.