December 2008

Current Events

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Seasons greetings. We hope this holiday season is healthy and fulfilling for you, your family, and your business.

The Hidden Gifts in this Recession

Well, the news has arrived. Our government stated this week that we are officially in a recession. Most of us knew that. So, given the fact that the economy is in a recession -- and one that might last for a long time -- what we do in the meantime? Are there effective ways to use this time constructively? I think so.

This reminds me of the story of the father who gave each his two young sons different Christmas gifts. One received a special gift he had been wanting for some time, and was delighted to have received it. The other one found a pile of manure outside in the yard. He immediately began excitedly digging with a shovel. His brother asked why he was so excited  the brother digging said, I know there is a pony in there somewhere! 

The point? It s about our attitude. And, for us, there are some ponies in having this time when business activity is slower and our lives are spinning a little less frantically. Recession starts with the letter R . Let's look at 7 areas of our lives that start with the same letter and see if they don't help us (both as individuals and organizations) figure out how to make best use of this time.

1. Respond vs. React  During times of stress, it is very easy to become reactive and develop a bunker  mentality. In those times we pull back, cut our costs, keep our powder dry, and try to hold on until the storm passes. While there is some wisdom in not squandering resources, it's probably a mistake to not seize the opportunities which are also present during times like this. So, adopting a responsive mindset and utilizing the full range of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual skills is probably a better strategy. So, take a centering breath before reacting to things that happen in your environment. In general, keep breathing through this difficult time.

2. Relax & Renew  One obvious use of what we might call down time  would be to take better care of ourselves. Using some of this time for constructive relaxation might give us a chance to bring our lives back into balance. Take a few more walks, get home from work a little earlier, spend more time in your personal exercise program. Watch more closely what you eat. If you can renew your personal energy reservoir during this time, that will help you get through the emotional stresses and strains.

3. Reflect  Purposefully carve out time to reflect back. RE: some of life's major questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is it that I want to accomplish in this space of my short life? Who is most important to me in my life? Do I have the kind of relationships I truly want? If I had one year left to live, how would I live my life differently? RE: from a work standpoint: how is my career progressing against my aspirations? Are the things I want to do and places I want to go for which I need to be better prepared? Am I passionate about what I am doing? What would bring me more fulfillment if I were to do something else? What are the special gifts that I have? Am I able to fully utilize those gifts today?

4. Reconnect  If you are going to have more time on your hands, who in my family can I deepen my connection with? Who have I missed connecting with because I have been so busy? Am I deeply connected with myself? How can I deepen that connection? Am I clearly connected to the mission of our business? Am I connected to the team around me? What can I do to create more connection to things and people that really matter to me?

5. Re-think, Re-vision, Re-strategize & Re-plan  The opportunity is clearly to revisit your purpose and goals (personal and business) and recast them in light of current challenges. Everyone affected by this recession is finding ways to not only survive the downturn, but come out on the other end more capable and ready for what appears to be a new world order. It seems that everything is changing  customers and their business, your competitors and their skills, your workforce and their talents, and communities and their needs. To the vital and sustainable one year from now, you and your organization will likely to have transformed itself in some very significant ways. Engage others in this process as well to tap everyone s best thinking.

6. Re-build & Re-engineer  During slack times, the most progressive and successful organizations continue to do the work of building capacity of their leaders and teams. Now is not the time to stop or reduce development programs that focus on building crucial capabilities of the organization. Instead, strengthen your commitment to acquire and develop all the leadership and team performance skills you possibly can for the future. You will certainly need them in the new, even more competitive environment we all will face.

7. Re-energize & Re-focus  Given that a new vision, strategy and plan have been created, it will become critical for you and your team to renew your spirit, energy and passion to bring to work. One of the most critical determinants of organizational success is the collective energy it creates in service of its mission to serve the customers of the business. The opportunity is now to focus on your vision of the future. Your collective new vision for the future is the single thing that will provide inspiration and hope for the days ahead. It looks like many things are going to be a very different, but that doesn't make them bad. We just need to get ready (another R  word).

And remember  there is a pony in there somewhere!


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