Monday, November 26, 2012

The half of it

There are probably not many who don't know the old adage about the half-filled glass: that the optimist sees the glass as half-full, while the pessimist views it as half-empty.

That aphorism has been extended in many ways: An economist would say that, adjusted for inflation, the glass is 10% less full than two years ago; a banker would say that the glass has 50% of its net worth in liquid assets; politicians would say that it would be fuller if you vote for their programs, and a private equity investor would say that they could get rid of the excess glass, then fill it back with a bit of leverage.

And finally, some would over think it altogether.

In the days leading up to the Thanksgiving break, there was much to-and-fro about the state of the world:  the results of the election, the fiscal cliff, a world without Twinkies, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

While those of us who prefer not to live in caves or with our heads in the sand have more than a passing interest in the news of the day, fixating on macro issues is mostly a distraction, and finding the truth is as elusive as ever.

As you were raising a toast to your prosperity at Thanksgiving, were you giving thought to the state of your glass?   Were you optimistic or pessimistic?

Or are you a typical small business owner:  a pragmatist, who sees only that he needs to go about filling up the glass, again and always?

It is more productive to focus on the essential elements of success in terms that you, rather than others, define.  Many of the business owners I meet in the Capital Region understand that and have achieved their success -- some have learned the hard way -- by concentrating on what they can control and creating an organization that executes consistently against that reality.

Perhaps that's why they are more positive about the state of their enterprises, despite their concerns about the "bigger picture."  With that outlook, their glasses are more likely to runneth over.

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