Don’t Predict the Future – Invent it

By | September 25, 2013


The Great Recession hangover still exists in the minds of many investors, employees and business leaders. People I talk with indicate they are still taking cautious steps forward with their businesses. Whether we don’t believe the recovery is real, or don’t trust the folks in Washington not to mess up any economic momentum we currently have, or just want to lick our wounds and are a bit gun-shy, I see many leaders waiting on the sure thing.

There is no sure thing anymore

The last “sure thing” I had cost me $2 and was the last horse to cross the finish line. In a global economy, a 24-hour news cycle, and information (often conflicting) moving in nanoseconds, we no longer have a clear path to success. Because of these changes to the business environment, we no longer have the “right way” and we surely have no reasonable vision for five years down the road. So, what can we do to create a successful future for our businesses?

Research, research, research

Because we are in the information age, it has never been easier to gather information without leaving our offices. The art of research in the modern economy is sifting through the overwhelming amount of information and determining what the right information is. When you locate information you feel is accurate about where your industry is heading, dig deeper. What is the credibility of the source? Where did this information come from? How current is this information?

Once you have gathered enough credible information about where your industry is heading, ponder the information before forming your action. One of the biggest missteps I see executives make today is to get caught up in the pace of business and apply it to their significant decisions. Top executives of successful companies are taking thinking time each week to consider the possibilities in front of them before forming their future vision and then taking swift action.

Get passionate about making your chosen future a reality

Because many people are still fearful for their jobs at every level of an organization, they are hesitant to fully get behind an idea with great passion for fear it could be the wrong idea and they then will lose employment. It’s the ultimate in playing the political game, hedging your bets, and trying to play safe.

Seldom does significant change, growth or improvement happen without a dedicated passionate leader driving the shift in a positive direction. I ask audiences when was the last time you had 100% passion about accomplishing a goal, and the most common answer I heard was, “Getting my spouse to marry me.”  And of course, one guy in the back offered his greatest passion was in getting a divorce from that spouse! You can accomplish great things with a full passion commitment.

The modern economy requires courage and resiliency

The old saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats” was true in a rapidly growing economy where business leaders could watch and coast on the rising tide of profits a vibrant economy will deliver. It has been at least 6 years since we had an economy that was “easy.” Many would argue it’s been since the last century since the business environment was easy. No one would argue that the current economy is not for business leaders who want to be spectators.

To create the future for your business you have to design it, drive it, be fully passionate with making it successfully happen, and be courageous. Without taking risk and simply going with the flow will cause your business to ride the rising tide, or be left high and dry beyond your control. The future you want for your business will not just happen, you must invent it.

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