Thriving in uncertainty

Many centuries ago a powerful king asked his wise men for a sentence to make him happy when he was sad. They returned with the words …

‘This too shall pass.’

The phrase succeeded in giving hope when the king was sad, yet the side effect was caution when happy.

As Abraham Lincoln proclaimed about ‘this too shall pass‘ …

“How chastening in the hour of pride. How consoling in the depths of affliction.”

Impermanence is a Buddhist notion that all human existence, without exception, is transient, or in a constant state of flux and uncertainty. There are good and not so good days.

Businesses equally face seasonal fluctuations and economic cycles. They surf emerging and ever changing fads, trends and impermanence.

bear market is a transition from high optimism to widespread fear and pessimism. An opportunistic bull market is typified by widespread pessimism, when the crowd is the most bearish.

Business, as the general populous, typically expect bad times to get worse and good to get better. They wait for others to move first, before they follow. In times of pessimism they seek signs of optimism.

Rather than embracing the opportunities of a pessimistic market, businesses tend to act when media, business and government are consistently optimistic… when all are riding the wave, competing in the same markets and when costs and conditions are likely inflated and preparing to decline.

Triumph in life and business comes back to resilience, the ability to adapt to stress and adversity. To not fight impermanence, but to flow with it.

The rare few have a special hybrid of resilience: Grit.

Grit is an individual’s unrelenting passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. People with Grit tend to be those with high levels of perseverance, hardiness, resilience, ambition, need for achievement and conscientiousness.

While many start, those with Grit persevere. They push through the dip, when all others are giving up, as it is all just too hard.

The renowned doctor who started studying with many, but only they sacrificed much and worked hard with determination to succeed.

The entrepreneur who just knew where they were heading, and even with the challenges, long hours working towards the solution and unrelenting morphing obstacles, they triumphed.

The CEO guiding the team through challenging times, never giving up in the path to achieving what all others could not see in the depths of turmoil.

Those with Grit are the ones who succeed. The innovators and change agents.

  1. They accept impermanence, working with it, not fighting it.
  2. They are strategically agile, rather than unresponsive and too slow.
  3. They are truly passionate in the pursuit of the dream they have visualised, committing to it over the long haul — months or years, and years, and years. How can we ever expect big things from leaders with short-term visions and mandates?
  4. They celebrate successes big and small, and learn from failures.
  5. They ignore the doomsayers and trend setters, relying more so on the intersection between their own intuition and robust information, analysis and market research. They place high value on independent, expert support in visualising the future and providing evidence based reality as to the world, and where opportunities exist, without fear or favour.

From accepting impermanence, and with this embracing deep passion and being strategically agile, success is inevitable.

Oh, and if you are struggling personally or professionally, please remember to seek help. You are not in this alone. The world is awash with people ready to help. No strings attached. This too shall pass. 🙂

Want more?

How much Grit do you have?

Take the Grit Test (Penn University of Pennsylvania)

Plus, Seth Godin chats about The Dip

Originally posted in December 2015 on LinkedIn here

This post was inspired by consumer research directed by me through Square Holes in relation to challenges from life-stages, to cancer, abuse, problem gambling and to death of a loved one, as well as research amongst big and small businesses often proclaiming “it’s tough!” I also founded Square Holes, so understand business impermanence and the need for strategic agility first hand.

Also posted on Medium.

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