Wednesday, October 16, 2013

7 Secrets of Success in a Recession

I call them secrets only because of what I see all around me. Everywhere I go people are talking about how bad things are and how terrible the economy is and on and on; so clearly they must be secrets. To me these "secrets" are simply principles that can be applied in any economy, recession or no recession, to achieve success. The only difference is in the mechanical how-to's during trying times such as these. You may have to change the WAY you do things, but not what you do. Admittedly, times are tough. But who are we to cower away in the face of adversity?

1. Stop Worrying! I mean it, stop thinking about how bad things are, stop obsessing over how much value your property has lost, or what the stock market is doing, or whatever it is you're worrying about right now. Worry is destroying you in more ways than you know. It does a fantastic job at eliminating any creativity that you may have. It robs you of precious sleep. It causes a loss of appetite and hence poor nutrition to fuel your body. And it puts you into a destructive frame of mind. None of these things will help you. I will drive this point home with a part of the inaugural speech given by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933:

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. 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."

This is eerily relevant today. In fact, it almost sounds as if it were written for the conditions we are facing today. But it was not. It was written during the Great Depression. And we all know; that story has a happy ending. So Stop Worrying!

2. Turn Off the News. Every time I happen to be in a room where the T.V. is tuned in to a news station, I am assaulted by terrible stories about death, murder, robbery, arson, plummeting stock markets and housing prices, banks shutting down, and on and on. Listen. I rarely watch the news and I know what is going on around me. I'm not missing anything terribly important because there is always someone who is constantly watching the news to let me know if I am. News is big business. The purpose of a business is to attract and keep a customer. Stories of puppy dogs and ice cream don't sell, but drama does. Scandal sells. Sex sells. And since this is what keeps the attention of the masses, this is what they report. It's doing nothing but reminding you that you should be worried. Turn it off and leave it off.

3. Study the Past. It has been said that to know where we are going, we must first know where we have been. There are stories of success in times of far greater adversity than we face now. The revolutionary war is an excellent example. Look at Hewlett Packard, Proctor & Gamble, and Chevrolet during the late 1920's and early 1930's when the Great Depression was at its worst. These are stories of success, increased market share, and creating an empire at times when others drifted off into oblivion as a result of fear paralysis. The unfortunate thing about the failures of these time periods was that it really was the mindset that the majority had which caused them to fail. Those who decided to act in spite of the fear made millions, created a new nation, and outsold their competitors. Study the past for stories of success during adversity. This will give you the inspiration to believe it is possible for you to create your success in today's trying times. Study the past.

4. Ask the Question: How Can I? If you just did this one thing over and over, you would be amazed at what you could create. Successful people look at problems and ask themselves how they can solve them, unsuccessful people look at problems and say, I can't do this, or I can't afford that or, we'll never be able to go there and so on. By asking how can I, you open up your mind to the creativity we all have within us to do incredible things. Like Henry Ford said "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." Focus on how you can give more, be more, create more, and serve more. In the words of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, rather what can you do for your country." Ask How Can I?

5. Focus On Your Circle of Influence. There are things we can control and things we cannot. Your job is to focus your energy only on the things you can control, your circle of influence. To worry about and focus on all the negativity and bad news of the recession is distracting you from focusing on what you can actually do something about. The serenity prayer comes to mind: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Focus!

6. Stop Waiting. Don't wait for the timing to be right, for the economy to get better, for the value of your home to go back up, for the kids to get through school, for the weather to warm back up, and on and on. Someone close to me just told me how he wants to open his own business. He tells me that if he had done it 3 years ago when he had the opportunity, he would be close to financial independence. He decided at the time to wait until the timing was "just right." Now with the economy the way it is, there's just no way he can do it. He said he would have to wait until the economy improved and when that happens, he will make his move. I was speechless... This quote perfectly sums it up:

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin-real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that those obstacles were my life....

"This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with. And remember that time waits for no one."
Father Alfred D'souza (Australian, died 2004)

Whatever it is you want to do, Do it now!

7. Make a Commitment. Commit to yourself that you are going to do what you know you should to turn your life around. Success is a process defined simply as the deliberate pursuit of a worthwhile goal. Success is not the destination at the end of a long journey, it is the journey. There is no failure except for the acceptance of it. Commit to taking control of your life instead of being controlled by it. And when I say commit to it, I mean to give yourself no other option. Burn the bridges that lead back to mediocrity and refuse to look back. When you stumble or you don't get what you set out to get, realize that the result is simply feedback and not something that defines or labels you as a failure. We live in a world of cause and effect. If the effect you elicit isn't the effect you wanted, congratulations! You found a way not to do it. Try again. Failure to achieve what you want to achieve is simply your internal GPS telling you that you made a wrong turn. If this happened on a road trip and your Garmin told you that you made a wrong turn, would you turn off your engine, put your head in your hands and give up? Of course not, you would regroup and start again. Life is no different. Focus on the end result. Commit to getting there. Don't quit no matter what happens. And take action now!

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