From 28,000 feet, snow still
spots parts of Michigan, Illinois and other states further West. The earth looks
brown and barren, dark and ugly from this vantage point. But I know that if
I could walk the fields and wait patiently, I'd see signs of new growth inching
out of hardened earth. I'd eventually find dead-looking tree limbs swelling
with rising sap, pushing buds into blossom under the warming sun.
But what if I opted NOT
to be patient? What if I panicked, burned the dead-looking trees, cut off limbs,
and retreated in disgust within my cocoon? Spring might NEVER come because my
shortsighted actions jeopardized the natural course of events.
That's what has happened
with the stock market and many of our companies. It concerns me that such actions
can create a rippling self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm concerned that departed
talent and trust might not be regained within the workplace. I'm concerned that
customers will retreat because quality and service could suffer as employees
attempt to fill the shoes of a thinned out workforce. Here's a hard pill to
swallow but perhaps all of us - myself included-have become greedy for the amazing
returns and astounding growth of the past eight years. Perhaps we've grown fat
and lazy instead of prudent and thoughtful.
I think now is the time
to focus on what's important. For our families and our businesses to thrive,
we need to ask ourselves what endures for the long haul and not the short gain.
Innovation, engaged and talent-focused employees, customer-focused products
and services and a deeply shared commitment to find ways for meaningful contribution
carry the day.
By historical standards,
we've been through far more dramatic financial times. Once the U.S. had 20,000
phone companies and 2000 auto companies. General Motors was once a tech stock.
As we say in the coaching world, "from breakdown comes build up."
I fully intend to be the
voice of reasonable optimism. Now-more than ever-we need to meet, to talk, to
vocalize our concerns and legitimize our fears so we can figure out a passage
through this blip in business history. Philosopher Howard Zinn said that to
have hope one does not need certainty, only possibility.
Let us figure out together
how to be the bearers of hope.