Dan Coughlin, The Dan Coughlin Co. — The economic tsunami that began picking up speed in December 2007 and swept around the world with devastating force from October 2008 to April 2009 has died down. What’s left now are many organizations that have been devastated or destroyed and individuals who have huge gaping financial holes where they once had solid financial fortresses. The flow of credit that was the underpinning of consumer and business spending has largely dried up. We are at the starting point of a new way of life unlike anything we have seen in a very, very long time.
…and now for the good news.
Consumers are paying off their credit card bills and saving money at a far better rate than at any time in recent memory. People are becoming savers instead of spenders. Obviously this slows down the economic rebound to a far slower rate than what occurred after the dot-com bubble burst and the disaster of September 11th, but it also means that individual families will be far more financially stable than they were back in 2004-2006. Just as a person who has had a heart attack develops better eating habits, people around the world are developing better spending habits.
Many large businesses are stockpiling money to be ready for the rainiest day imaginable. Again, this slows down spending and economic expansion, but it also increases the strength of these organizations for long-term success. While the short-term economy is still tough to operate within, the long-term economy is vastly more stable.
In essence, we are doing some very old-fashioned activities right now. We are postponing the purchase of everything we want in order to shore up our savings and eliminate our credit card debt. We are not investing in every wild idea that comes along, but instead we’re being very selective both as individuals and as organizations in terms of what we invest in.
…and so where do we go from here?
This fall I coached a nine-year-old boys soccer team. Two nights a week we practiced for 90 minutes. Most of the time we played small-sided games of four versus four with makeshift goals. For the first five practices the boys spent a lot of time whining about what position they wanted to play and whether or not a shot was really a goal or not. After 15 minutes into the fifth practice, I announced, “We are establishing NWR.” The boys looked at me with a stunned look on their faces. One boy finally said, “What is that?” I said, “NWR stands for the No Whining Rule. You are no longer allowed to whine about what position you’re playing or whether or not we say a shot is a goal. Whatever the referee, which is one of the coaches, calls, that’s what we’re going to go with.” Suddenly the boys just focused on playing soccer, and the practices became a lot more enjoyable and much more productive.
As adults, we need to practice NWR. If I whine to myself about something for 15 minutes, I wasted those 15 minutes. If I whine to another person for 15 minutes, I wasted 30 minutes: 15 of mine and 15 of his or hers. If I whine to nine people for 15 minutes, then that’s 150 minutes of wasted productivity. This whining thing can pile up very quickly. I think a lot of us whine too much.
Whining and complaining and criticizing have even become big business. Some of the highest paid radio and cable television announcers essentially spend their entire on-air time whining about this issue or that one. I’m not talking about people who are focused on improving an issue. I’m talking about people who simply use up their time complaining about stuff that they are not working toward improving. Imagine a huge crowd is cheering you on with, “Stop Whining, Start Playing.”
The Ear Wax Removal Kit
Recently I whined a lot about loud noises. I went to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago to celebrate a company’s 20th Anniversary. For the entire weekend, I kept saying, “What did you say?” over and over and over. I blamed it on the loud music. Last week I spoke in Orlando, Memphis and Chicago. I couldn’t hear what other people were saying very well at all. I whined about the poor acoustics everywhere I went. Then on Saturday night I went out for pizza with Barb, Sarah, and Ben. I kept saying, “What did you say?” I blamed it on the loud restaurant. Then it dawned on me what was happening. The only common denominator in all of those situations was me and my poor hearing.
Barb said, “When was the last time you cleaned the wax out of your ears?” I said, “Excuse me,” except I really did hear her. In the midst of all my whining about rooms being too loud, I had managed to forget one itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, little detail: cleaning the wax out of my ears. I stopped at Walgreen’s and bought a $7.99 Ear Wax Removal Kit. Several days later the problem was all cleared up, and I could hear again.
Is there a possibility that you are wasting time and energy whining about some aspect of your existence that is keeping you from making the necessary changes to become more effective? Is your organization steadily hurting its own productivity by whining about something it can’t affect? Remove the wax from your career and your business and get on with the business of improving results in a sustainable way.
Stop & Start Over
I offer this advice in my articles about every 18 months. It’s time to do it again.
Take out a blank sheet of paper and redesign your career and your business. You get to keep all of the knowledge, skills, and experience that you have accumulated in your lifetime. However, you don’t have to keep doing anything the way you are currently doing it. Knowing what you know now and being given the opportunity to start your career or your organization over again from scratch, what will you do to generate the results you want both in your career and in your organization?
Write down exactly what you will do going forward. Do not feel compelled to continue doing what you have always done in the past. Feel free to do whatever you think is the best thing for you to do at this point in time. This is an incredibly important time in history. The world has gone through a massive shake-up. Industries have been tossed up and down and all around. Rebuild your career and your organization from the ground up. The economic hurricane has blown over many existing structures and careers. The storm is over, and now the rebuilding begins.
Knowing what you know now with all of your experiences and skills in place, what are you going to do to generate sustainable success?
Write your answers on a blank sheet of paper, and then execute your plan as well as you can.
About Dan Coughlin
Visit Dan at www.thecoughlincompany.com. There you can sign up for his free, monthly e-newsletter, The Business Acceleration Newsletter and watch his Free Business Acceleration Video Library. He teaches practical and inspiring ideas on how to improve business performance. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, executive coach, and author of four books on leadership, sales, branding, and innovation. His books include Accelerate, Corporate Catalysts, The Management 500, and Find a Way to Win. His clients include GE Capital, Prudential, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Marriott, Boeing, Abbott, Toyota, Subway, Kiewit, Denny’s, and the St. Louis Cardinals.