My grandfather used to remind me that if something can’t go on forever, it will stop. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s far better to get out before a crash, rather than riding a set of circumstances to the bitter end. Looking ahead into 2018 it’s not hard to see dramatic economic, social, and technological changes coming hard and fast. This is not going to be “business as usual.”
The view looking forward through the windshield is much larger than the rear-view mirror. We have every reason to be realistic optimists. There is tremendous potential for individuals and organizations ahead, but it’s on the far side of turbulence. Even the worst economic situations create new opportunities for those who can see them.
How should you as a smart, savvy leader be prepared? What can you do to help your current business or organization? Some recommendations:
- Shed dumb debt and needless expenses. Avoid a situation where financials are leveraged against you and you cannot take advantage of new opportunities.
- Strengthen your ability to travel light. Adventures won’t work if you’re dragging multiple suitcases. Learn to live with fewer physical items and abandon mental baggage. Create margin for thinking and action.
- Adopt the mindset that the world has already changed, and you need to adjust. Act as if you have already had the heart attack or business disruption, and begin to live accordingly. Assume every business model has a short half-life now.
- Spend 1/10th the time consuming social media and entertainment that you do today. Invest that time in genuine rest, learning, creating value, and building relationships.
- Become a student of trends in other industries which could become opportunities in your industry. What my neighbor told me as a kid in West Virginia still rings true: “You can’t learn nuthin’ worthless.”
- Teach more as a means to growth. “People don’t teach because they are experts; they are experts because they teach.” (Nathan Berry)
- Decide now that when the changes hit you won’t ask for “a safe space,” but will instead leap into action which takes you to a better place. Deal with reality head-on. Work through the change curves as rapidly as you can, in order to lead others. Fight the temptation to hunker down and hope something magical happens. Whining on Facebook about something being “unfair” is not leadership that helps you or anyone else.
- Cultivate deep spiritual, family, and business relationships with good people. These become bedrock strength in times of immense change.
I hope my worst fears about massive disruptive changes never come to pass. Leaders consider the future possibilities and prepare. Even if no significant changes occur in 2018 you will still be far better as a leader if you adopt these recommendations. Deep changes are coming, even if we can’t correctly forecast when.