Monday, October 29, 2012

Trying times

"I'll try."

Can you think of a more maddening phrase in business and in life?

While there are contenders -- such as "I think not;" "I could be wrong;" "just give me a while to think about it;" and "perhaps we should get the group together to discuss" -- to me "I'll try" is the biggest hedge in the human lexicon.  If you are on the receiving end of an "I'll try," does it inspire confidence in a positive outcome?   

While I don't usually put much stock in the quotes of imaginary movie characters, Jedi master Yoda nailed it in "The Empire Strikes Back":  "Do or Do not.  There is no try."

Business owners are an optimistic lot, generally.  They have to be to continue moving forward in their businesses in the face of continuing changes in customer preferences, competition, regulation, employee attitudes, etc.

The only constant in business, a CEO said at a recent TAB board meeting, is change, and "change drives growth."

I agree.  It's one of the reasons I don't buy into the conventional wisdom that "uncertainty" is hampering business growth.  No one knows what lies ahead; the winners prepare for multiple outcomes and adjust accordingly.  They don't try to guess, they prepare to act. They fear stasis.

Many businesses, even mature ones with experienced owners, experience failure.  We've covered that before.  Failure doesn't stop successful business leaders.  They are focused on the outcome and realize that the process of getting to their goal is likely to be messy and imperfect.

A business owner I know has been through a succession of salespeople, as he has tried to maneuver his business to capture a new commercial opportunity.   His attitude:  it's been a learning experience, albeit a painful one.

He says: "Everyone is telling me to stop trying, even my wife. They don't understand.  I'm not trying, I'm doing.  And I'm just not done yet."

The force is strong with that one.

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