To Hope or to Act, That is the Question
I want to rant about something I saw in USA TODAY. It was one of those little polls they have off to the side of the stories. The question it posed to small business owners was, “Do you feel there is anything you can do to make a difference in whether your business succeeds or fails in the current economy?”69% said yes. But what shocked me was that 31% said no. WHAT? If that was how they responded, that 31% DESERVE to go out of business.
Take the words “the current economy” out of that question. If you think you can make a difference in good times, why would you think you can’t in tough times? Surely 31% don’t believe they can’t make a difference in their own businesses? Have their brains fallen out?
You can either lie down and “hope something will change to make things better” or “try new things to stimulate business.” (Those were the choices in the USA TODAY poll.) Any time you opt to simply “hope something will change to make things better” you are being a victim. Why would you not try everything possible before you just sat around and “hoped”? Hope is never a bad thing – it is hope that has that 69% trying new things. But hope should start at home. Get off your own butt before you expect some secret external factor to come in and bail you out. (And I do mean bail out.)
Bail yourself out and you have security. You’ll know what to do next time. You’ll be stronger, more competitive, smarter. Let someone else bail you out and you rely on them forever (hear me, Big Three?). Do kids learn to walk because you carry them? No. They learn to walk by falling a few times and working like crazy to say upright.
I know we can’t control much, but I will NEVER believe that hoping is better than taking action.
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt “Citizenship in a Republic,”Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
Do you want to be someone who dared greatly or someone who hoped things would change?
How to do more than hope:
1.) Define the problem. Are sales down or expenses up? Is your marriage bad or have you quit trying? Are your fixed expenses too high or is it all those lattes, magazines, and shoes that are wrecking your finances?
2.) Make a plan. If sales are down, what’s the best way to get them back up? If your relationship is in trouble, what’s the best way to get it back on track? What actually worked in the past? Is it a viable option today? What new ideas do you want to try? Gather information here; don’t just act for the sake of acting. Take the correct action.
3.) But don’t get bogged down in research and planning – you need to act as quickly as possible. Your competitors are acting as well. While you feel a sense of urgency, get on it!
4.) Do it! And do it in a big way! Why act just a little? Now I’m not saying put all your eggs in one basket, but now is not the time for timidity. Be bold! I am in the process of redoing my website and getting a book designed and printed. Both are big marketing expenditures. What better time to spend money on marketing? Why try a little fix for a relationship in trouble? It’s not going to get better by delaying or trying something risk-free. If you are in the arena, are you going to try your smallest weapon first? No way – you’ll do what it takes to WIN!
5.) Do not give up! Let the 31% give up. Let them sit there as the fight rages and hope something might happen so they don’t get killed. Fight for what you want in life with everything you have. It’s the fighters who will either win or emerge much stronger to fight another day.
6.) Know what you really want. Don’t try this strategy if you are not sure you really want your business or your relationship or whatever it is. This strategy only works if fueled by true passion and desire. Can’t commit? Can’t decide? Join the 31% and get out of the way of the rest of us.
Roll up your sleeves, get in the arena! Your life, your business, your world is what YOU make it. That 31% should be ashamed.