“Life is a series of commas, not periods.” – Matthew McConaughey
Humans are interesting creatures. For all our talk about learning from our mistakes, or not repeating the past, or not making the same mistakes twice, we sometimes seem to forget past events almost immediately after they’re over. Part of it’s probably some kind of psychological defense mechanism – something bad happens to us, it’s painful to remember, so we block it out.
That tendency to forget history is part of why we all seem shocked any time some significant event happens, good or bad. If things are going well, we seem to think they’ll always just continue on an upward trajectory forever. When the inevitable downward turn happens, we act like we just can’t believe this happened, we haven’t planned for it to happen, we don’t know what to do, and it’s total chaos.
The same thing is true when times are bad. When we’re struggling, or when there’s something going on that scares or worries us, we seem to think it will go on forever and nothing good will ever happen again. Then things turn around and a few months later we forgot we were ever stressed in the first place.
The point for leaders is this: When things are going well, enjoy it. Make the most of it. Be grateful for your success. But don’t ever lose sight of the fact that at some point there will again be struggles. Are you prepared for the next barrier that arises? Have you even thought about what that might be?
When things are going poorly, you may need to take steps to mitigate the damage or you may need to make some tough decisions. But don’t panic. Don’t just assume that because right now things look bleak means that all hope is lost and you might as well shut your doors. If you’re prepared for rainy days, chances are you can get out your umbrella and make it through.
Life (and business) is a constant string of ups and downs. Rarely is anything final, never to change again. Rarely are you permanently without question going to be successful, and rarely is there no chance of ever being successful ever again.
Know that those ups and downs are coming, and prepare for them. When they happen, implement the plan. Deal with the challenges & make the most of the opportunities. And remember you’ve been there before.