In the movie Wall Street, there is a scene where Hal Holbrook's character tells Charlie Sheen’s character, “There comes a time in every man’s life when man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.” I love that quote because I think it is so honest and true. There does come not just a time but often times in every persons or company’s life where there is nothing but abyss. You stare into it, looking harder and harder but you see no lighthouse, no north star… nothing to guide you. You are… lost. Based on conversations I’ve had with clients, friends and company owners of late, I think a lot of folks and companies are a little lost right now and hoping to find their character.
The interesting thing is that if you check out survival skill books, they tell you the first thing you should do when you're you’re lost is stop. Sit down. Find cover from the elements and wait to be found.
Only thing is, if you’re a person or a business that is lost, well that’s pretty much a recipe for disaster I think, because no one cares enough to find you. In fact, truth be told your competitors would just as well have you stay lost. Sure your loyal customers will miss you, yearn for you but that too shall pass. They’ll find new lovers… they always do.
So what’s a guy, gal or business that is lost to do? I don’t really have that answer but here are a few thoughts to get you thinking and maybe finding a solution or even better, getting unlost. I’m hoping that you readers out there will take a moment to toss in your 2 cents because I’m pretty sure we’ve all been lost once or twice. So with that, here goes:
1. Stop feeling like you don’t have control of the situation. Sure there may be outside forces at work like bosses, competitors or the economy. Forces you may or may not be able to effect or control. But as the t-shirt said after Hurricane Katrina, “Put your big girl panties on and get over it.”
2. Move. Have you ever watched the firefight scenes in a war movie? The commanders are always saying the same thing when the bullets start flying… MOVE! Motion is life. Motion is hope. Motion means you are affecting your future. You are changing a variable in the equation and that change might just save your life or at least your ass.
3. Take stock in yourself or your company. Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis but do make note of the things you can build off of and what you can’t. Then focus on the stuff you can build on and start doing.
4. Pick the thing that takes the least effort but will have the maximum effect. Notice I’m not saying the biggest effect I’m saying least effort yields biggest effect item – play the spread. Why? Because you aren’t trying to fix the whole situation you find yourself in, you’re just trying to fix one part of it. You’re trying to create a win. Human psyche needs wins to go on, to survive and to thrive. So give you and your company a little win today.
5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you see light. Rinse, lather and repeat if you will.
you start to see something there in the abyss, keep moving. While true the
light you see may be a train coming right at you, at least you’ll see what’s
going to kill you versus getting blindsided, which is what happens when you
just sit still and stick your head in the sand. And I’m guessing most of you
are agile enough to jump off the track in time.
So there is my two cents. What do you do when you face the abyss? How do you overcome that feeling that you just don't have the answer?
photo by Starfall