In Change, Leaders

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde

Right now it’s pretty easy to focus on what’s going wrong.  Maybe that’s always easy for a lot of people, but it feels worse than usual.  The past eighteen or so months have seemed like a nonstop parade of problems.  At the root is a global pandemic, but it’s manifested itself in all kinds of ways – obviously health issues, but also people having to work from home, businesses closing, virtual schools, and now massive supply chain issues.

All of those things have been and are continuing to be difficult, and for some businesses it’s been too much to take.  For those that have kept plodding on, it can be exhausting.  I’m fortunate enough to regularly interact with truly fantastic leaders, and even they are running on fumes.

I’m not going to write some naïve, rah-rah post about how everything’s actually great and that if you just can have a positive attitude there will suddenly be rainbows and unicorns everywhere.  You wouldn’t fall for it, and it’s not true.  Those struggles we’re facing are real.

That said, focusing on what positives might come from those struggles can provide energy.  For example, there are a number of businesses in our area who are facing supply chain problems with no end in sight.  Some of them aren’t going to be able to get materials or parts they need for a year or more.  What good could possibly come out of that?

In several cases, what’s coming out of that is those businesses are thinking about what they really do well as an organization and how they might be able to do some of those things even with a completely broken supply chain.  Is there a different customer segment we could serve?  Is there a different kind of value we could add?  Could our processes, systems, equipment, etc., be made to do something else that we haven’t done before?  Something else that’s valuable to someone that we could get paid for?

Being forced to change due to difficult circumstances isn’t in itself a positive, but the change can be.  Think about your business.  What things do you do really well?  Is there a way to do those things for more people?  Are there customers out there who don’t know what you do?  I’m not suggesting you can suddenly become everything to everyone.  I’m just suggesting that you might be something to someone and not yet realize it.

As you battle through the current hurricane, remember that you can make change now that will last, and that when this storm is over, you have a chance to be stronger than you were before, more flexible than you were before, more resilient than you were before.  It’s not phony optimism.  It’s gritty determination.  Get to work.

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