Part 2 of 2. In case you missed it, read Part 1 now.
For those of you catching this post on a mobile device, don’t forget to check out today’s video. If it doesn’t load properly for you, feel free to go watch it here.
Caught up on yesterday’s post? Done with the moving pictures? Good. We can begin then.
Remember when you first started in the business world? When you were a hungry startup? When you couldn’t afford to compete against the big boys in your industry but you still went after them with guts and heart and smarts? This is the spirit you need to get back to if you want to make it out of this recession on your feet rather than on your knees… or on your back.
It’s the mindset you need to adopt if you want to ensure that you don’t become another victim, another statistic of this economic nosedive.
But before you can move forward, you have to accept that the economy is no more responsible for your success or failure than your competitors. Or who happens to be in the White House. Or whatever the excuse of the moment happens to be. The war in Iraq. The price of oil in Dubai. The butterfly beating its wings in Brazil. Fact: There will always be obstacles in your way. Small ones. Big ones. They’ll always be there. As soon as you figure out how to overcome one, another will appear to take its place. It’s just the nature of business: If it were easy to succeed, everyone would.
Yet not everyone does.
What you have to realize is that there is no middle-ground here. No gray area. No safe zone. This game either has winners and losers. That’s it. Those are the two outcomes, and that’s pretty much it. Those are your two choices. The two buckets calling your name. Whichever one you end up in is entirely up to you.
Incidentally, which bucket you end up in isn’t a result of fate. What obstacles the world throws at you may be harder to overcome than those it throws at everyone else. I’ll give you that. Maybe your mountain is taller, steeper, meaner than everyone else’s. Okay. So what? What does that have to do with anything? The obstacles are irrelevant. What matters is is choice you make: What bucket you want to end up in. The winning bucket or the losing bucket.
Yes, success is a choice. From start to finish, it’s a choice. Why? Because before success can become an outcome, it has to begin as a mindset.
(Even if it takes 40 years for the mindset to turn into outcome. Sometimes, that’s just how the pebble rolls.)
Fact: You either let excuses run your life or you kick them out of the way and press on. It’s that simple. It really is. Not easy, but simple.
And this “recession”, boys and girls, this “down economy”, whatever you want to call it is nothing but another excuse to blame failures on if your mindset isn’t right. Sales are down? Must be the economy. We have to lay off another 1,000 workers? It’s the economy. We need to slash bonuses? Yeah, the economy.
How about this for truth: As a business leader, you didn’t have a Plan B. You weren’t ready. You were hoping the Titanic wouldn’t hit the iceberg, but you never stopped to ask yourself what you would do if it did.
To throw another analogy at you in mid-stream, when the grizzly came running out of its cave and made a bee-line for you, you froze in terror and then ran off.
Because you weren’t ready. Fight or flight: You picked flight.
That’s failure #1. And frankly, I won’t be the one to kick dirt in your face for having screwed that one up. A lot of people did. It happens. We all screw up from time to time. It’s okay. Brush yourself off and get back in the saddle none the wiser, right?
You would think. Unfortunately, something still isn’t clicking: 10 months into this economic slowdown, most are still hiding in the bushes, waiting for the big bad grizzly to go back into its cave, waiting for the coast to be clear, waiting for things to get back to normal before “doing” anything differently. Failure #2.
Well no. That’s no kind of strategy.
It’s been 10 months, people. If it isn’t clear to you yet, let me spell it out for you: The duck and cover model isn’t going to get you anywhere (we went over that yesterday).
It’s time to come out of hiding and face the bear.
If you don’t, you’re done.
The grizzly, the iceberg, the mountain, your competitors, the economic crisis, the recession, the price of rice in China… They’re all one and the same: Obstacles to overcome. Nothing more. Nothing less. They’re nothing new, and they’ll never stop coming. If you think that you’ll eventually get to a point in your career when obstacles will magically vanish, I have a bridge to sell you.
Fact: Right now, hundreds… no, thousands of companies are facing the bear. Taking it head-on. Wearing it down. Learning how to outsmart it, outmaneuver it, outfight it, and they’re taking the lead. From you. While you are hiding, “waiting” for the bear to go away, they are taking the initiative and becoming the next decade’s market leaders. While you’re in a hiring freeze, shrinking budgets and hoping to avoid another round of layoffs by hopefully landing new clients (how is still unclear since you are not innovating), they are adapting, evolving and growing.
You aren’t growing. All you are doing is shrinking. Watching from the sidelines. Playing defense with what now amounts to a skeleton crew.
Take a quick 10,000ft view of the situation: Who do you think is winning? The companies rethinking, revamping and retooling, or the companies with a wait-and-see attitude?
Which one do you want to be?
So let me ask you again: How do you want to come out of this recession: On your feet, or on your knees?
Honestly, if you aren’t already looking at this recession as an opportunity to gain market share and crush your competition, if you aren’t at least in the process of rebuilding solid bridges between you and your customers, if you still don’t get that this is your moment to create something extraordinary, that this recession is actually the best thing that’s ever happened to your business, it’s time you asked yourself some pretty crucial questions, starting with… Are you sure you are cut out to be a business leader?
Because whether you like it or not, business is a fight. On a good day, it’s nothing short of a friggin’ grudge match. And this is a bad day. A very bad, very long, very punishing day that’s bound to get worse before it gets better. So my question to you is: what are you going to do about it?
I have three simple questions for you. Write them down, take them home, and take your time answering them. They’re important. Very important. You’re basically stuck in business limbo until you answer them thruthfully, where you go from here is completely up to you. I can’t make you want to be successful. I can’t make you want to be a real leader. All I can do is help you find your way and let you do whatever it is you decide to do:
1. Fight or Flight: Either you want to be in this fight or you don’t.
Boiled down to its core, this is a simple fight or flight question: First things first: Do you want to be in this fight? It’s okay if you say no. It’s okay if your heart isn’t in it. If you don’t look forward to the blood, sweat and tears it’s going to take to win. The hard work. The really long days. The sleepless nights. The doubts. The blows. There’s nothing wrong with packing your bags and walking away. No shame in it. If that’s what you want to do, if your heart isn’t in this, then don’t lie to yourself: Do yourself a favor and go do something else. Go start another company. Go work for someone else. Go take a year off and be with your family. Go learn how to paint in Provence. It’s all good. Go live your life. Go do what makes you happy. Nobody needs you to pretend to be something you aren’t. Nobody is forcing you to fight someone else’s fight. Nobody is forcing you to fight the grizzly if you don’t want to.
But if you want to be in this fight, then BE in this fight. Jump in, heart and soul and all. Run into it swinging and land some good punches from the start. Don’t just hop into the ring to put in a valiant effort and get a pat on the back from your spouse or golf buddies for good measure. Get into the ring to win. There’s no A for effort here. In the real world, the worst team in the league doesn’t get a trophy. In the real world, it files for bankruptcy, shuts down, and sends families into financial upheaval. So don’t take up the challenge if your heart isn’t in it to win.
2. Why are you here? (No, really. Why are you here?)
Okay, so you’ve answered the first question. You want to be in the fight. Okay. Now tell me why.
Do you even know?
Is it pride? Is it fear? Is it desperation? Is it because you really want to be here or is it because you feel like you have to be here, that you owe it to the company founder or to the employees, that it’s either that or early retirement?
Why are you really here? Say it. Write it down. Turn your answer into a manifesto. I don’t are as long as you can actually explain to me or anyone what your purpose for being in business is. If you can’t figure it out, then maybe you’ve answered Question 1 (above) incorrectly. If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, if you don’t know what you want out of this, if you can’t articulate this, then what are you doing here?
What do you want out of this? In a perfect world, what would you be known for? What would be your legacy when it’s all said and done? Is that really what you want? (Back to question 1: Do you really want it?)
Why are you here? Tell me.
3. How do you define “winning?”
How do you define winning? Simple: How do you define success?
Does success manifest itself as hiring back all the people you had to lay off? Is it restoring your revenue stream to the pre-September 2008 bust? Is it capturing 50% market share again? Is it making the cover of Fast Company or Inc. or Rolling Stone? Is it becoming the leader in your industry? Is it selling x amount of widgets? Hell if I know. Don’t ask me. I’m not you. How do YOU define success? What do you want to accomplish in the next 3, 6, 12, 18 months? What are your specific goals?
Ask yourself. How do you want to beat the grizzly? Be specific.
Do you know? If you don’t really know, don’t you think after 10 months of playing defense (whatever that means) you might want to put brain to light bulb and pencil to paper and figure it out?
If you’re in this fight, be in it. Be in it for the right reasons. And know what you’re fighting for. That’s it. Give it some thought. Write it down. Say the words outloud until they become part of you, then go kick this grizzly in the snout and become the leader you dreamed you would someday become.
Here’s your new mandate: You’re in startup mode again. Whatever you’ve accomplished so far, however successful your company may have been in the past, all of that is irrelevant. If you want to win, if you want to come out of this thing swinging and on top, you have to go back to the hunger, the adaptive drive, the can-do mindset that characterized the start of your career and the eraly days of your company’s history. Outsmart, don’t outspend. It’s back to the basics for you and your organization. It’s time to turn a brand new page.
And by the way, if you’re a CEO, CMO, business manager or entrepreneur and you still haven’t figured out that this recession, that the grizzly bear threatening to tear you apart is the best thing’s that’s ever happened to you professionally, that this is your moment, your Normandy, your Everest, your defining battle royale, you are hopelessly blind.
One last little thought for you today: You don’t have to win at everything, but you do have to win at this.
Consider the alternative if you don’t. Stop waiting for something to happen, and make something happen.
Have a great Tuesday, everyone.