“I am convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance”.
- Steve Jobs, The late Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc.
2016. A New Year, new goals, and new challenges on the horizon – with a global economic cloud on many people’s vistas. But before you start to spiral into a meltdown – stop – and breathe.
Let’s take a moment to remember that this isn’t the first recession Canada - or the world - has trudged though, and it certainly won’t be the last. Instead of worrying, let’s take hold of the opportunity that this recession is presenting us on a silver (although slightly tarnished) platter. Out of great strife comes some of the most incredible inventions and entrepreneurs, just look at Sir Richard Branson! The man is arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, and he speaks openly (and arguably fondly) of his own setbacks and failures, acknowledging the profoundly positive impact they had on his success. One of the most difficult lessons a person will learn is that the path to success is not smooth sailing, it is fraught with turbulent times and sometimes, even when you do everything right you can capsize or even sink. But it is that pressure that creates diamonds out of coal.
So why am I spending an entire blog discussing failure – more or less? Because failure, strife, and economic recessions are perhaps the most important part of our laissez faire capitalist market economies. These failures and hard economic times force people to think outside of the box, to be innovative, to be entrepreneurial. The human race excels at rallying (and succeeding) in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, all you have to do is take a stroll through history to witness the plethora of examples: WWI, WWII, 9/11, our very existence from hunter-gathers to landing on the moon. We the people are the most valuable resource for success - not the price of oil or the closing numbers on the New York Stock Exchange.
Think about every story you have heard about the underdog. Everyone loves the underdog. Why is it that these so called ‘underdogs’ have captured our hearts and admiration? Because they don’t stop, regardless of the challenges and obstacles they come across – and their determination usually pays off. It is their very status of being an underdog that contributes to their success. The fact that they have to work, and work hard, to achieve their goals pushes them to think outside of the box, because the box just wasn’t working for them. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Joy Mangano, Netflix, the Dyson Company, Alexander Graham Bell, Ben & Jerry’s, Under Armour Inc., - quite literally the list just goes on and on.
Apple was founded in Steve Jobs’ garage in 1976 and while it was a relatively successful venture, with the typical ups and downs of a business, it still didn’t hold a candle to Microsoft’s market by 2002, after nearly 30 years of business. However, by remaining committed to its innovative, out-of-the-box design just eight years later Apple surpassed Microsoft, becoming the most valuable technology company in the world. Apple’s reputation speaks for itself. Period. I quite literally do not need to use a single written word to impress upon anyone reading this article the extent of Apple’s success because, well, its Apple. I mean there are even whispers of an entire generation being called iGeneration, and even if that is just internet ‘hoopla’, the fact that we the people have attached Apple’s iconic “i” to describe an entire generation (even if it is only in the Reddit feeds of the internet world) speaks to the impact this underdog has had. Need I say more?
So, that pressure that you feel - that tightness in your chest - use it to drive you, push you further out of your comfort zone to do something you may not have even thought of doing when you were warm and safe in those times of economic sunshine, lollypops and rainbows, because those are often the best ideas.
Sit down and write out your craziest notions, work on developing your people, set goals, build your base and your brand so you can do more with less. Spend some time focusing on your strategic, take a look at your culture, and make sure you are being efficient while still fostering positive change and growth within your organization.
Tighten that belt so you can become the most streamline and efficient version of yourself. All good things take time, and good things comes to those who put their nose to the grind stone and chant “I know I can” not, “I think I can”.
So as you embark on this 2016 journey, with the grey cloud of slow or negative growth rates looming in the forefront of your thoughts – stop and give thanks to you deity of choice - God, Buddah, Elah, Jah, The Force - for giving you this opportunity to think outside the box and achieve greatness because, it starts with people, it starts with you.