Most of us like it when things go our way. That’s just human nature. But always doing just what we want whenever we want isn’t always good for us. As Dr. M. Scott Peck pointed out on page 53 of his mega-bestseller, The Road Less Traveled, “It is natural to defecate in our pants and never brush our teeth. Yet we teach ourselves to do the unnatural until it becomes second nature.”
Experience has taught me that if I really want to maximize opportunities and outcomes, I need to ignore my immediate desire to take charge and instead think about how I might use compromise in order to optimize. This means learning to go against my nature and letting go of my natural human desire to have everything go my way.
This life lesson has served me well through the years—both personally and professionally. I can’t possibly count the times that an event, an evening, an outcome, a relationship or an experience wasn’t in some way improved because I chose to not assert my will on something.
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Recent headlines have shown us that really tough economic times are an equal opportunity event, with the propensity to take out the 800-pound gorilla almost as easily as it can the fairly younger or smaller companies. In fact, sometimes the bigger and more evolved companies have a harder time making the necessary changes in time that would allow them to survive and evolve through the crisis themselves. The good news is that the Seven Missing Links that ensure successful corporate evolution (see my last blog) can be applied by any size organization. It is critical, however, that the evolution or crisis plan is understood and embraced by those who will have to implement it.
While all of the missing links rely on people to make changes and transition, it should be noted that the last link is far from being considered the least link, and should not be underestimated:
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Company Evolution, or Stagnation?
“Most businesses get to the top, and stay there, because of their ability to anticipate and respond to change.”
More than half of today’s successful Fortune 500 companies were started during a bear market or a recession, according to a report released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. No matter when or how your organization started, this study suggests that opportunity indeed exists in difficult economic times, and your organization’s ability to respond to challenging market conditions is paramount to your longevity and success.
When business climates change radically companies can’t afford to merely “redouble their efforts” or “try to do more with less” (two sayings I hear way too often). Radical changes in markets require that companies learn to evolve. Organizations that fail to evolve eventually die out.
What do businesses need to do in order to evolve and survive radical change? Why do some survive and even thrive in tough economic times while others die off?
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I have the opportunity to talk with dozens of organizational leaders every week, and often the topics of strengths and weaknesses will come up. Lately, I’ve been noticing a theme of denial that I haven’t seen the likes of before. People are tending to tout and rely on strengths that no longer serve them like they used to as they completely underestimate the costs of their weaknesses.
“Individually and organizationally, we know the value of our strengths much more than we know the costs of our weaknesses.” — Joe Caruso
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