If you are cheered or encouraged by what you’re about to read, it will be in an odd sort of way.
Maybe you can relate so Steve. He’s the CEO of a mid-sized business that has seen revenues hammered by the recession. He and his team have done careful analysis, consulted with industry experts and taken dramatic measures. In short, they’re doing everything right.
And it isn’t working.
They haven’t seen revenues rebound like they’d expected. Their best efforts haven’t saved the accounts they’d hoped to save.
Steve and has team is discouraged and looking for answers.
The best answer I can offer: there are no guarantees.
Most managers and leads live with a positive optimism that if they just do everything “right,” things will work out. Often they do. Sometimes they don’t.
All of us can think of times in our lives when our best analysis and decision backfired. Just as we benefit from dumb luck, so can we suffer from what I’ve come to call “informed misfortune.” Informed misfortune reminds us that even when good information is acted on well there are no guarantees of the results.
Feeling encouraged? I didn’t think so, but perhaps you should reflect on what I’ve just shared. Deep down, you already knew it to be true, that there are times when your best efforts don’t create the results they should. Unless you are living in deep denial–or very young–you already know there are no guarantees.
That doesn’t mean we should quit trying to think and be and do our best. It does mean that we shouldn’t beat up on ourselves when doing our best isn’t enough. The encouragement to be found is a realistic assessment of life, and the acceptance that there are forces bigger and more powerful than ourselves and our organizations that may in the end have the last say.
The belief that doing everything right will assure success is borderline delusional. Because doing things right often does create success, we want to extrapolate that into the belief that it will always create success. And there are times when it won’t.
Steve and his team aren’t giving up. They aren’t prospering as they thought they might, but they’re surviving. The good news is that they don’t waste too much time getting existential about why doing everything right didn’t work. Instead, they focus on what they should keep doing despite that.
This realization–this “no guarantees” reality–may be the only thing that will ultimately keep you sane during difficult times.