Blood and guts! That's what's going on everywhere in the marketplace right now. There's the credit crunch, decreased consumer spending, the bailout quandary, the jobs report, fuel prices and surcharges, the stock market falling, the pending election, our uncertain future. One part of me fully comprehends how today's economic, political, and social climate could leave people paralyzed. Yet, I'm more determined and motivated to do the hard work, the sometimes seemingly impossible work, to succeed despite what the world is throwing at us.
If business is war, here's a pertinent analogy. In Patton, the famous movie featuring George C. Scott depicting World War II Gen. George Patton, one scene stands out. Walking amongst casualties of a battle, with blood and guts and carnage everywhere, Scott, playing Patton, looks to the heavens and says, "God help me because I love this stuff!" Gen. Patton was one of this country's greatest strategist and military leaders, even if he was a bit twisted. As an entrepreneur, you too have to be a bit twisted to do what you have to do day in and day out to succeed despite today's chaotic times.
Personally, I could not muster the resolve to do the hard work if it weren't for the motivating factors of our country's and my organization's challenging times. It's exasperating to have to downsize good people in order to do what I have to do in right-sizing my ship. But you can't, as an entrepreneur, not respond aggressively to threats to your organization from outside influences. Being paralyzed, in today's paralyzing times, is just not an option if you are going to survive. Instead, the media, the banks, the instability we face, needs to fuel the entrepreneurial fires in a way the status-quo business environment never could on its own.
Today, everything we do and how we do it is being sifted through with a fine-tooth comb to make certain of the cost-benefit returns on our investment. When the cow's fat, how do you motivate an individual or team or even an organization to do that? Like every business today, we need to increase sales while decreasing costs and Houdini ain't around to help us. That's why the last thing any of us can afford to do today is to be paralyzed by fear. To quote another famous American leader who said this in the middle of our country's worst economic times, The Great Depression, "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory." (In case it doesn't sound familiar, that was President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933.)
As entrepreneurs, it is up to us to prevent fear -- however well founded it is -- from gripping our organizations and creating company-paralyzing self-fulfilling prophecies. I say, praise God for the motivation that's been amply provided by our economy today and the subsequent motivating resolve it brings about in me.
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