Being in any type of business today can feel like standing in the path of an on-coming tornado. The fear of being devoured by the unrelenting wind is real. You think your only hope is to take the first shelter you can find, grab something sturdy, and hang on.
Years ago, my grandmother had to seek shelter from an on-coming storm for herself and her children. Everyone hid in the safest place she could find – under the bed. The house – with occupants inside – was lifted off its wooden pier foundation and deposited about 100 yards away in her pasture. Hanging on left her alive. She was also certain that different choices were needed for the future.
What You Can and Can’t Control
Change and disruption are everywhere. New technology creates new industries and disrupts established ones. Geopolitical strife is rampant. Trust in our institutions and the leaders who guide them is low. You don’t know from where your competitor will emerge. It could be across the world or across town in a college dorm room. There is a lingering uneasiness that the economic uncertainty of the Great Recession could return.
You can’t control what the government does. You can’t control what your competitors do or the new technology that might threaten your existence. You can’t even control on a macro basis the behavior or performance of the institutions that help us define our culture.
You can only control yourself and the choices you make every day. Here are six of them that will help you flourish in the face of uncertainty and upheaval.
- Tell yourself the truth. The signs of an impending storm are usually evident if you are looking. Blockbuster, for instance, new about Netflix. The problem comes when your definition of “looking” is 3-D Vision: Denial, Distortion, and Delusion.
So let’s begin here: Are you telling yourself the truth about the changes that could affect your success? Are you being truthful about your ability to turn them into an advantage? Are you constantly watching for the signs of an impending storm? Nothing ever really changes until you tell yourself the truth.
- Pursue the best over the easiest. Easy is familiar and efficient. It saves you time and allows you to get on with the work at hand. Easy is better, right?
Not necessarily. Doing what is easy and familiar might make you obsolete. The better choice is to ask, “Are we doing what is best or what is easy?” If the two answers are the same, great. If not, pursue the best.
- Leverage the power of partnerships. There are people who know you, those who like you, and those who will actively help you succeed. It is nice to have people in all three categories, but those who will help you succeed are essential. Partners look out for your best interest. They are your advocate. If they are your customer, they sell for you. Most important, they have your back.
You create and leverage your partnerships when you become a better partner. What are you doing today to earn the right to be valued as a partner by others?
- Focus your energy to make the main things the main thing. In times of uncertainty, people run towards value with their investment of resources and energy. Now is the time to say “no” to everything that prevents you from delivering value to customers, colleagues, employers, partners … in short, everyone who is important for your success.
- Learn and grow every day. Leaders are learners. This isn’t motivational hyperbole. The marketplace expects and rewards those who are better tomorrow than today. To flourish in the future, continuously look for ways to be faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier.
- Show the courage of accountability. Everyone deals with the economy, competitors, new technology, government regulation, and a myriad of other factors. Like it or not, you are precisely where you have earned the right to be. If that isn’t where you want to be, what are you going to do about it?
Like it or not, the uncertainty and upheaval that could make you irrelevant is coming. Isn’t it time that you stopped hanging on and started making different choices?
Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 972.980.9857.