“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou
Last week in this space we talked about taking control of your future. We said that to get started, first think about WHERE you want your business (or your life) to be, then act on the things that really matter.
Someone asked, “What if we’re not sure exactly what to do?” The answer is simple: No one is ever sure exactly what to do. No one ever has a perfect view of what’s going to happen in the future. It’s not possible.
That doesn’t mean you stop trying to change. If uncertainty about the future or about our businesses or about our competitors or anything else meant we should crawl into a hole and wait until everything’s more clear, nothing would ever get done.
Our job as leaders isn’t to be perfect, or to predict the future with 100% accuracy. Our job is to do whatever we can reasonably do to understand our environment and how it’s changing, and then go out and act accordingly. Sometimes we will be wrong. Sometimes we will make mistakes. But we learn from them and move on.
One of our clients developed a new product that they thought fit exactly where the market was going. It seemed like a great product, they’d done research, talked to customers, etc., all that stuff you’re supposed to do. They introduced the product and nobody bought it.
Failure? Not in my opinion. They learned a lot about their production systems while bringing a new product to market. They developed relationships in their marketplace while doing research on that product. They also learned things about how they market new products. Did it cost them some money? Yes. But it wasn’t a failure. They took those things they learned and applied them to the next new product they developed – and experienced huge success.
Life is about educated guesses and taking risks. There is no completely perfect information and there is no risk-free action. You get the best information you can and eliminate as much risk as possible, then you go for it. Remember, there is risk in doing nothing as well. In our current world, that risk may be even greater.
So figure out the best way forward you can, and then go forward. Sometime soon you’ll learn something that changes your viewpoint. When that happens, adjust. It’s not some kind of magical process. It’s just your job as a leader.