Strategy

14th December 2017

Stagnant

As you review the recent history of your firm, your life and your career how applicable is the word stagnant? The opposite would be fast flowing, fast moving, growing. Which best describes your situation?

There is often a perception that the ideal state is a steady state. A state where not much changes; where this year is pretty much the same as last year; where things are steady, stable and predictable. Some people will describe this as some sort of utopia, but is it? Is it really?

In nature, as in life, as in business we are either growing or dying. A steady state does not exist. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. Which is it for you?

I work with lots of business owners and business leaders who feel that their businesses were stagnating or in danger of doing so and it is precisely for that reason that they have engaged me. Going from stagnant to vibrant can be challenging. As a good friend of mine once said, the only difference between fear and excitement is perspective and so we have banned the world ‘rollercoaster’ in our offices, at least when it is used in a pejorative or negative way. Of course, life is a rollercoaster, that is part of the excitement. It would be boring otherwise. As a business scales up the problems don’t get smaller, and they certainly don’t go away, we just need to be sure that our ability to deal with those situations has grown at an even faster pace.

If we are going to make great progress, we are also going to meet with great setbacks. It was always this way. I don’t believe any of us were created to be mediocre. We all have greatness within us and we all have a duty to be the best we can be and that can’t happen when we settle for average, when we vote for mediocre, when we decide to play it safe and when we choose to stagnate.

Reflecting on the highs and lows of life and business I was reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s great poem ‘If’ and how appropriate it is for all business owners and business leaders. He rightfully labels both Triumph and Disaster impostors as he implores us to do our best, to ‘fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run’ .

Stagnant is not a good state, not a beneficial state and not a healthy state. Where are you on the stagnancy scale as this year draws inevitably to an end and what are you going to do different next year?

I will close with the words of Hunter S Thompson:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!