This week, I hosted and facilitated a strategic conversation with business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives of associations and service programs in Central Alberta.
Riding the waves of recovery is a fascinating subject, but combined with the insights of surfing, it generated more visual appeal than anything related to riding on the waves. I am not a surfer by any means but there are clear and compelling insights about surfing that can be applied in business and life.
For beginners, you need to consider the following:
1. Health- you need to be in good shape, young and old can quickly adapt to the physicality of the sport. Some sports like snowboarding and swimming are already in the league . In business, your fundamentals must be in good shape. If 'cash is king,' know how to get short-term cash by extending your value to your customers, increasing your offering, and getting better at repeat business.
2. Skills and capacities-you need to be a good swimmer to be safe and have fun doing the sport. Knowing your capacity will help you upgrade your skill and learn to remediate. You can't fake your way into the game unless you have the capacities to deal with different scenarios, starting small and learning as you go. Same is true with business owners who do not have the basic skills in marketing, branding, asking for the sale, and management of key staff and assets. Do you have the right team aboard? Do you keep abreast of current trends and information about your target markets?
3. Go where the waves are-go where the waves are but stay away from crowded areas. You need to go where there are less people to practice your work and allows for quick feedback that can improve your performance. Staying safe and having fun while learning is the best environment. In tough economic times, look for opportunities that are occasionally missed because they are not 'sexy' or normally considered a profitable segment or niche.
4. Best tools you need-is it for gliding and recreation or is it for meeting big waves? There are tools you need to be able to perform properly and optimally. Some of these are equipment and tools and some are expert advisors you need to have so that you get the best information that is catered to your unique needs.
5. Judging the opportunity- a skilled surfer they say should be familiar with waves, how they are produced, the effect on the ocean, and the kinds of safety measures you have to do to maneuver into situations that are not expected. As Dixon would say, "surfers are alert for the unexpected at all times." Experienced ones can be on top of the waves one minute and can stay back, holding their ego in check when conditions are not favorable.
Riding the waves of recovery is a science and an art in itself. Instead of accepting that a wipeout is looming and that you will be at the bottom of the ocean again, consider using these strategies to take control and navigate the complexity of the situation on your advantage. Positivity as a mindset is contagious that it can create a better environment for your team and your workplace.
As professionals and workers in the marketplace, we put our best selves forward many times until we hit a breakthrough and get better at our craft. We continue to pound the pavement, get through the adversities, and refuse to be intimidated by we call the 'baptism of fire.' As the saying goes, if you are not failing, you are not trying enough.
Well said. But your next best hit is something that is totally unknown to you. Artists, professionals, experts would say time and time again, that they don't know why did their career moved to the direction unbeknownst to them. It as if, the fate, the universe, or the invisible Hand had guided the opening of certain doors and the closing of some.
We can always improvise but there is no way to predict the outcomes of certain projects, initiatives, plans, and situations. We can be persistent which is a good substitute for talent and innate abilities. To do that, would mean to be able to prepare in high season and in low, monotonous cycles where no one seems to care. It is that instance, that we gear up for the inevitable, the crashing of walls of resistance, the slow-motion towards the fulfillment of goals, and the gratitude when success is imminent.
My high school journalism teacher said, "the higher the objective, the sweeter the triumph." The more difficult the task, the sweeter the reward. He prodded us to meet the challenges of difficult writing assignments and roles, beating the deadline, working on our drafts, preparing to write professionally and with passion, and being able to face corrections for our good. I still remember that teacher. He was a turbo-charged nudge, always ready to look at our first initial drafts (which were always not good!) without condescension. Our first school publication bearing our names in the editorial box was the first for me, the real meaning of 'credit.' You give credit where credit is due.
You must assume that success is not final and that failure is never fatal. You have to be skeptical about overnight, landslide victories and be equally level-headed when things don't go right for you.
Not all opportunities are equal.
There are opportunities that are just right for your organization and opportunities that you should overlook because
1) it is not enough to be a sustainable venture;
2) it takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and monies to get it off on the ground and even maintain;
3) it doesn't represent your current wheelhouse and departing from what works could get you distracted and confused;
4) it is a fake opportunity, a carrot being dangled without the evidence of its real value and feasibility;
5) you are overreading into the situation.
Not all ideas are germane as business opportunities. Not all offers or interests should be taken seriously.
Test them diligently and be sure that they represent most viable vehicle towards your ultimate goals. Know the people that you are talking with or will work with and check their track record of success or achievement.
There are no shortcuts to careful thought and consideration of the issues that you weigh in. The real value versus the actual costs of making those investments including the time it will take to get it fully completed, should not be underestimated. Most of the time, new projects and initiatives collapse under their own weight putting too much at the beginning when it is important to be light on the foot and formless when things are in flux. If you are not the decision-maker, it is better to be flexible and adaptive, listening to counsel and opinions of those that can make it or break it.
Remember to be positively inactive when there is no need to take action, especially when the gains are far less than they tend to appear.
Frustrated, defeated, and feeling that there are no options left but to quit?
This post is not about that, but when does quitting becomes an opportunity to get on track or refine one's vision of life, work, career, or business.
Quitting or the process of quitting opens up the possibility to give chance to reinvention and self-affirmation;
Quitting or the process of quitting clarifies your own contributions, the strength that you brought to the table and the qualities and assets that you can take wherever you go;
Quitting will identify who the real friends are and who aren't: they will provide the insights of your contribution without you asking them for it;
Quitting releases the drive to make the most of what you had and gathers the strength to move on with things that you want to continue building and enhancing;
Quitting earlier than later means that you are taking control and that frees you up to do the things that you love and want to do;
Quitting can be a dramatic exit which you can leverage in an organization where the stakes are high and you can make a big difference out of leaving;
Quitting does not mean that you will not try again in the future. It is not definitive as long as your reasons are clear and that you don't burn the bridges to future interactions.
Before you quit, ask yourself, how can my quitting helped me become a better person, professional, and entrepreneur?
Quitting isn't always a bad move! It can be the most liberating to do when you know how to bring the best out of a seemingly bad situation.
An unexamined life is not worth living- Socrates
A lot of what happened in our lives, careers, and organizational lives happened for a reason. Some of these reasons were unbeknownst to us from the beginning. In hindsight, it unraveled with greater clarity. The speck in our eyes got dusted off and pretty soon, with honesty and candor, we began to search for real meanings.
The unexpected successes that we have cannot all be credited to luck. Luck is product of being in the right time, in the right place, presenting your best, in worst and glorious conditions. For example, walking along the cafeteria, you met an old friend and started having a conversation, and before you knew it, he gave you a piece of insight that helped you in your current project. Who would have thought that it could turn out that good? Not expecting it would be an understatement.
We live in an interconnected world that is hard to ignore. We are all part of the system, whether we like it or not. We belong to a small whole, that is part of a bigger universe and so on and so forth. Luck is being prepared when the right opportunity comes -- come snow or high water.
With that in perspective, it is easy to brush off a one-time issue, problem, or challenge. When it gets repeated with same results, you better get down to it. It's a pattern that can be corrected or if positive, maximized or that is a symptom of far greater thing you can't possibly handle all by yourself. You might need a telescope rather than a microscope. You might need a rheostat than a thermostat. You might need a nimble, light approach rather than CAT scraper.
Depending on the situation, examine your accidental prosperity, favor, or success. Let that give you the fuel to seek what is right around the corner, and seize the day with vigor.