Improve Your Performance with Optimistic Action
No one can doubt that Winston Churchill faced some of the most tumultuous times in history. And, no matter what difficulties your business is facing now, it’s unlikely they are as insurmountable as the storms of World War II that faced the British Prime Minister. But, through all his periods of trial and doubt it was evident that he remained the consummate optimist when he said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Right now, hidden in the economic gloom and doom swirling all around, may be the biggest opportunity your business will ever have. It’s a time when companies that can make creative decisions, give legendary customer service, and operate with maximum flexibility will survive and thrive.
Big financial and manufacturing companies are facing crisis after crisis because they’re unable to rise above their plodding ways of doing business. Their ideas lack freshness, decisions are slow, and their management teams are confused and unsure of how to respond to the marketplace. They try to trim their monstrous overheads by laying off workers who create the products they sell and provide service to their customers, while paying huge salaries and bonuses to their least productive employees – executive management.
Contrast that with smaller businesses that can operate lean in tough times. They have a much better opportunity than Chrysler or CitiBank to weather the storm. They don’t have bloated overheads. They can make decisions and implement ideas without going through several layers of corporate managers. They can actually see the frontline – the place where customers spend their money – from their office. Unlike top management at major corporations, small business owners and staff may even know many of their customers by name. In many ways, small businesses have a chance to make an immediate difference every single day.
And, that brings us to optimistic action.
It’s great to be optimistic about your situation – to see opportunity within your grasp – but optimism alone won’t create results. The sincere belief that you can succeed has to be coupled with action before your goals can be reached.
One of the best illustrations of optimism and action I’ve ever seen comes from James Kirkwood’s novel There Must be a Pony!
A psychiatrist had twin sons age eight. One was an incurable pessimist – the other an incurable optimist. Their father became alarmed and decided to try an experiment. Christmas Eve he filled the pessimist’s room with everything a boy could wish for; and he filled the optimist’s room with horse manure.
Early the next morning he went to observe their reactions. The pessimist sat among the toys, books, clothes, sporting goods – just sat there – eyeing the presents suspiciously, trying to figure out what the catch was.
His father sighed and walked toward the other boy’s room. When he peeked in the door he saw him standing waist high in the middle of all the manure, shoveling it up in the air over his shoulder and laughing like a fiend! “Son,” the father said, “what’s the matter with you? What are you so happy about?” The boy turned, still laughing, and replied, “Gee, Dad, I figure with all this manure, there must be a pony!”
If you feel your business is being buried in the manure of deepening recession, just remember to look for the pony. And remember, the only way you’ll find him is to start shoveling. To quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.” You don’t have to have all the answers – just an idea to believe in and the will to take action.
Make this recession the launching pad for success. All it takes is optimistic action!