Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anais Nin
Much of our news in the world is dire. Our economy spurts and sputters; yet, countless colleagues are facing unplanned job transitions and many baby boomers are finding themselves without employment. Our friends and neighbors are unsure about what to do or how to proceed.
As individuals, what steps can we take? How can we leverage these times to our benefit? As I struggle through these issues along with you, here are a few thoughts:
Seth Godin has written a provocative book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. In this book, he touts his observations on the opportunity of leadership for each and every one of us. Thanks to digital media, we have the ability to reach so many people, which prior to social networking and the overall proliferation of the internet, was difficult to make happen. Not anymore.
He believes that the real key is to find a way to ‘connect’ with each other and build faithful followers or ‘tribes’ which create and evolve into movements. These tribes are passionately connected to their leader, their idea, and their motivations to make a collective difference. Through powerful and innovative leadership, we can collectively and individually thrive.
We are all facing tough times. Regardless of the order of magnitude – rich or poor – everyone is feeling a pinch in one way or another.
Thus, connecting with each other around common causes, business initiatives, our personal and collective growth will create positive, forward momentum.
Taking that first step will undoubtedly pay off for those of us brave enough to swallow our fears and go for it.
This is not easy. If it were, we would be moving forward instead of feeling panicked or stifled by fear. The thing is, we all have the CHOICE and only a few of us make that choice. I can’t pinpoint why we don’t choose ‘taking initiative and assuming a leadership role’ ; yet, I do think it has a lot to do with fear of failure, lack of faith, or just simply ‘not knowing what to do’.
Do I have the $1 million answer on what is the right next step? Frankly, that next step will differ for each of us. What I do know is that staying ‘stagnate’ or in the ‘status quo’ is not serving anyone – most importantly ourselves. Movement – forward or even sideways – is the only way to open opportunities.
So, a few suggestions – make the call. Write the blog. Go to the lunch. Apply for the job. Introduce the friend. Go to the party. Submit the proposal. Ask for the loan. Launch the product. Offer the idea. Extend the hand. Take the risk.
Risk failure. Risk exposure. Risk…. period.
When I say ‘invest’, I am not referring to stocks, bonds, real estate, or other tangible assets as ‘investments’. First of all, I actually do believe that if we are lucky enough to have significant enough financial resources to be able to invest in these types of assets, we should do it! This market is turning around, and as history has proven, fortunes can be made in recessions and depressions.
However, I am referring to other ways of investing such as, furthering our education, enhancing our careers, joining new organizations and ‘tribes’ of people, soliciting outside perspectives and so on. Now is the time to ‘shore up’ what we individually and collectively offer to the world and our respective markets. Now is the time to evaluate our offerings, reconsider our approach, strengthen our competitive differentiations, and clarify our value propositions.
Now is the time to invest – both in time and money – to insure we are optimizing what we are, what we have, and what we do. Now is the time to leverage other people and resources to help us achieve (and exceed) our goals.
I am personally walking this talk. It is not easy – trust me. I am still investing in strong, assertive interactive marketing. I am investing in legal and financial counsel as I expand and secure the assets of my business. I will publish my second book later this fall; and make no mistake, writing a book is an investment in time and resources – with no sure guarantee of a ‘break even’.
All these investments are being made with the sole intention of providing the best service to my clients. I believe these investments are for the ‘good of the whole’ and thus, will give me and my clients a strong return on the investment – short term and long term. We each have the choice to make these types of investments. It is not easy; yet, I am convinced that now is the time.
When the going gets tough many of us are tempted to withdraw. It is easier to ‘close the world off’ than to risk rejection, risk failure or to incur even more expenses. Everyone needs to ‘fill up their tanks’ from time to time and often this means ‘just holing up’.
Yet, one thing I believe – if we don’t risk anything, we risk even more. We have to power through. We have to be bold.
Especially in times like this, we have the choice to engage in life. To engage with each other. To engage with other companies, partnerships, and alliances. To engage with other parties who can offer objective perspectives. To engage with others who can hold a mirror up to us, our choices, and our directions. We can’t win the game by sitting on the bench. We have to get into the game! We may ‘strike out’ and we may not make the home run, but in the game of percentages we will eventually break through.
How we come out of this cycle, is not a matter of chance. It is absolutely a matter of choice and courage to initiate … invest … engage.
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