Sometimes slowing down is as good as accelerating.
The majority of us find ourselves working in competition with others. Everyone has targets to hit, and when times are good, there are enough readily accessible targets for everyone. However, every market has its limits, and because everyone is sprinting from opportunity to opportunity, there is nonetheless a limit to what can be achieved. If you are accelerating at the same pace as everyone else, you will all earn yourselves a decent amount of money, but you won’t take too much more market share.
It is when times get tough that distinctions can be made between the winners and losers.
Competitors who were gorging themselves on the “easy wins” in times of plenty simply don’t know how to react when obstacles come into view. They stop, scratch their heads and hunker down for a while, waiting for the storm to blow over. Why go out there and get wet when nothing can be achieved anyway? When you stop moving, you stop seeing the few opportunities that are still out there.
Others decide to stay out in the tempest, slowly placing one foot in front of the other, shielding their eyes to make out the next potential opportunity. It might seem like a fruitless pursuit to an observer, but gradually they become hardened to the conditions, and little by little they stay the course. They might have a far smaller proportion of the opportunities that they had in the good times, but they will nonetheless be making their difference.
When many others are not making theirs.
Fates are decided when the winds of change blow in. Some companies aim not to be blown over, which in itself is a sensible approach, but others aim to keep trudging on. They may well be blown over a few times, but this doesn’t stop them picking themselves up and keeping going. With the fabled rule of “marginal gains,” every step they take ahead of their competition will give them that extra bit of oxygen when it really matters.
For me, this is the story of any good business owner working in a cyclical market. Of course, make hay when the sun shines, but when the rain starts to fall, you simply have to turn your field into a rice paddy. Doing the same thing in different circumstances is madness. To keep moving you have to do things differently. The pace of movement will slow, you will have many false starts, but you will keep moving.
Even moving slowly is incredibly motivatory for your team. Every win will be celebrated that little bit more, and the positive intent will bind you together in your mission. There is no motivation to be found in standing still and waiting.
If you keep going when everyone else stops, you will slowly but surely move off into the distance. Getting “one step closer” is my goal when I wake up every morning.