You hear it so often, it's easy to dismiss the phrase, "there's opportunity in adversity." But if there's one thing I've learned in my years in business, it's that when one door closes, a window opens beside it. That's why I'm finding myself as excited as I've ever been not just despite but actually because our sales results for 2007 came in below projections. Knowing what I know today, I shudder to think what would have occurred if we had hit our sales objectives last year! And, yes, I am an entrepreneurial dreamer. But I still believe this concept holds water (pun intended). Let me explain:

In my last post (Is Losing Focus Always a Bad Thing?), I mentioned my belief that sticking to our core product line and market had been a cornerstone of Aquascape's success. Yet, when sales growth slowed in 2006 and flat-lined in 2007, I began to feel a breeze which led me to look out a proverbial new window. And what I saw was an exciting view I might never have seen otherwise. Which raises the unanswerable question, Would I -- and the organization I lead -- ever have been able to see the new opportunity we are now poised to jump on if our forecasted sales had actually materialized?

Here's what I do know: My chief strategist and longest-running employee both have been beating the drum for this new opportunity for the last year -- and damn loudly for the last six months. Why did it take me so long to hear what they were saying? Why did someone who loves new challenges and has a ready-fire-aim entrepreneurial make-up sit on the fence until only recently? Those were realities I had refused to acknowledge before but now I say bring it on! If we were sitting on easy street and swimming in cash, would I have this same level of enthusiasm? I think not!

So, yes, I'm stating that if we had realized our sales goals, it would at the very least have muted our new entrepreneurial energies and it might even have killed them. Can you honestly say the motivation to get better is not significantly stronger when you're disappointed?! I'm motivated more than ever to make our evolving mission work. I believe our employees are, too, after seeing the ramifications of unmet sales forecasts. I propose there is indeed a silver lining to unmet sales goals. Now it's up to us to turn that motivation to real gold -- and not the kind that you find at the end of a rainbow.