Business. It goes up and down like a cork in the middle of a storm.
You say, “There’s too much business” one day.
“No matter what I do today, I know that the small peak of work I reached today will be topped by another tomorrow and the day after that.”
The next day, he cried, “There’s not enough business.”
“It doesn’t matter how hard I work; people aren’t spending, they aren’t paying, and the bills are piling up.”
How to go on a roller coaster
As the digital revolution has made business owners’ lives harder in every way, a whole new industry has grown up to teach the poor business owner how to ride the wave.
A lot of this is based on:
• If you own a business, you know how to run it.
• You are a skilled driver and a smart explorer.
• You’re an adventurer who likes the rush, the thrust, the speed, and the thrill.
You also have a quiver full of skills that you can use to hit your target every time. They only have to point you in the right direction.
Smile and say, “It’s all just right.”
I’ve run my own businesses for 36 years. I’ve had too much business and too little business.
I’ve hired and fired people, started and failed, started and succeeded, and changed my mind about what I wanted to do. In the last ten years, like a weather vane in a hurricane.
I’ve used a lot of different tools to help me teach, but unlike Goldilocks, I’ve rarely found the right bowl of business.
Most of the business people I meet who have had a similar experience are not rally drivers but rather pedestrians. Thank God for them, because they care for, nurture, and feed the world.
Most of the people I meet who don’t share my experience are testosterone-fueled speed demons. If not for them, we might still be living in mud huts.
Even though I don’t have much testosterone, I’m still holding on to my roller coaster and won’t let go any time soon. Unless I fall off and get put in a box and taken away.
On some days, it makes me feel sick as a dog and makes it hard for me to make decisions. On other days, it makes me feel alive, free, and excited.
I’ve learned a few things along the way that have made the ride more bearable on days when going up and down like a yo-yo in the hands of a four-year-old seems beyond exhausting.
When you’re going downhill and you know you still have a big hill to climb, it’s easy to get stuck in regret. If only you’d made a different choice, taken a different turn, or fired that jerk.
When this happens, I’ve learned to keep my thoughts to myself. I stop the regret and don’t let it go. It lets me look at it without feeling angry or sad. It gives me time to put it away before it starts running around in my head like a mad bull trying to get me off its horns.
This is being aware.
Keep moving toward
Marshall Thurber also gave a talk at the same TEDx event where I did. His talk was called “Predicting the Unexpected.” Buckminster Fuller, a well-known scholar and futurist, has called Marshall “an evolutionary event in our time.”
Marshall, the founder of The Positive Deviant Network, starts his talk by asking, “How many people’s lives and businesses have gone exactly as planned?”
He then talks about theories that never change and can be predicted. Like leverage, theories that don’t change work everywhere in the universe.
He explains the theory of precession with the help of a bumble bee that is full of pollen and unhappy with its life. As he hops from flower to flower, the bumble bee is not doing what he thinks he is doing. The truth is that his real goal is at 90 degrees. He is mixing things up.
This means that if you are moving, you are in precession. He says that is an unchangeable theory, where things happen out of the corner of your eye and 90 degrees to what you are trying to do.
“Life” isn’t meant to work the way you thought it should, says Marshall. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself,” he says. “Just be glad you understand the theory.” “A goal is somewhere you are not right now. That will keep you moving.
Marshall uses my TEDx talk as an example of precession in his book. On my business roller coaster, when things were the worst, I went for the millions and instead helped start a charity that has changed the lives of thousands.
Marshall’s idea is put to the test. Mine, which is that the roller coaster is an unchangeable business theory, hasn’t been proven yet.
But a lot of what Marshall says in his talk fits with my view that all you can do is move toward, either down the dip or up the other side.
If you are stopped along the way, you might end up going in a different direction. Soon, the roller coaster ride will begin again. Enjoy the ups and deal with the downs. As long as you keep moving forward, life is a rich ride.