As the CEO Peer Advisory Chair and Coach, I ask business owners what is different now in their worlds. I regularly hear that they have less certainty and less confidence, and their sense of security in the future is shaken. I totally understand that. The world just threw us all for a loop. Standards of business are different, and they are probably not going back to anything recognizable in the near future. There are lots of questions we need to be asking ourselves. As business leaders right now we need to make decisions that can be life and death determining.
What strikes me most in all of this is the fact that we get to a place of false security and are happy to reside there. Six months ago, people were enthusiastic. They were making plans to spend money, hire people and invest in the future. They didn’t know a virus would cause a pandemic and the government would shut down business as we know it in America. But they slept at night, they projected, predicted and looked at best-case and worst-case scenarios as they made decisions. We didn’t know anymore about the future then than we do now. We didn’t know any less about the future than we do now. Maybe the recent months are lessons that we shouldn’t be optimistic. I don’t think so. Maybe the recent months brought lessons that we should be prepared for anything. I think that might be closer to the truth. What can help us be ready for anything that comes our way? I have five suggestions:
- Know your values so you can make decisions based on them when times are tough.
- Have a strong cash position so you can handle any downturn or take advantage of any opportunity that may happen at any time.
- Have a strong relationship with at least one banker so you can get access to cash if you need it.
- Don’t live or work in a vacuum: use the counsel of smart successful people so you aren’t isolated.
- Realize we can’t predict the future, and we should not rest comfortably imagining that everything will stay the way we like it. Have contingency plans that allow you to make fast decisions and act on those decisions just as quickly.
That false sense of security last year was just that: false. You still slept better. How can you position yourself to be ready when the world turns upside down and still be able to sleep at night? As Jim Collins suggests in his Stockdale Paradox: be candidly realistic in our current reality, but be optimistic that we will get through it.