Faith, Guts and the Willingness to Learn

Regardless of the positive spin some pundits put on it, the economy is still struggling and your organization’s Profit and Cash future is at stake. But don’t fret, there remains plenty of opportunities out there; opportunities to realize plenty of profit, reduce debt and begin creating a cash surplus.LEARN.

When you’ve been beaten down, even a little, it’s natural to want to hunker down. However, speaking from personal experience, withdrawing or standing still is a blind alley that leads to missed opportunities and less profitability. There is another way.

I once read about this topic in the Harvard Business Review. A research firm performed a study of the qualities it takes to be successful. The writer took into consideration such things as education, motivation, networks, and so on. The conclusion was that hanging tough was at the top of the list, e.g. the ability to bounce back from setbacks and even disaster, counts more than education, more than experience, and more than training.

Hanging tough has been an important factor in my career. In the late 2000’s, I took on more debt for business growth than I should have. That shook me up. I imagined losing my home, living in my car or worse yet, living on the street. Not really, but you get the idea. In short, I was beaten down.

Fortunately, having owned businesses for decades, I had plenty of experience in having suffered and got through major setbacks and I knew how to get through this one as well.

I read somewhere that ‘fatigue makes cowards of us all’. The first thing I had to do was to take care of myself, physically. I rejoined a gym and began working out 3 nights a week. I was also reminded of my responsibility to my associates and clients, so I pushed myself into having a positive approach to this issue. Everyone looks to the leader to lead, and not get caught up in the ‘woe is me’ attitude.

It was difficult at first, but within days I found that I was actually feeling better from the inside out. My smile was back and it was real. Everyone saw my improved spirit and began collaborating with optimism, which made it easier for me to work hard.

Now that I was mentally and physically ready to deal with the challenge I was facing, I sat in my office for the better part of two days and worked on my strategy and tactical plan. As best as I recall, it included the following fundamentals:

  • Stay positive, regardless of what happens
  • Get rid of unprofitable client services
  • Eliminate waste
  • Focus on core marketing strengths
  • Stay the course

Slowly, I started to see results. Some of my marketing efforts began to reap returns. That wasn’t my first rodeo (as we say in Texas) in the knowledge and value of hanging tough. And, it won’t be my last. In the decades of business ownership that have passed, I’ve run into setbacks many times; it goes with the territory. But having overcome adversity many times, I was able to bounce back.

Faith, guts, work and the willingness to learn; that’s the combination you need to overcome obstacles and bounce back from problems. For Andrew Carnegie, one of the world’s biggest successes; faith came from an overriding belief in the power and willingness of God to intervene in people’s lives.

Carnegie said, “The first thing to do about an obstacle is simply to stand up to it and not complain about it or whine under it but forthrightly attack it. Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have. Just stand up to it, that’s all, and don’t give way under it, and it will finally break. You will break it. Something has to break and it won’t be you; it will be the obstacle.”

Thomas Jefferson had a similar idea about how to handle difficult circumstances. He put it this way; “Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.” And Winston Churchill said; “Never give in. Never give in, never, never, never …”

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