Very often, great companies become even greater when a crisis forces the decision to go. There's a tremendous sense of clarity and urgency that can come from facing disaster. It's in these moments of truth that the true Category of One company rises to the top. For extraordinary companies, a crisis can thin the herd and force the competition to find another line of work.
The historic economic meltdown of 2008 gave us an almost limitless supply of practical business lessons. Perhaps the most impactful of those lessons is that there can be tremendous value in a crisis. When taking action is just an option, it's easy to continue having meetings about it. But when the banks stop making loans, customers are canceling orders, revenue is plummeting, and your cash flow is slowing down to a trickle, you begin to realize that more meetings aren't the answer. You have to do something and do it now.
It's been said that a recession is a reallocation of money from the scared to the bold. The reaction of many people to a crisis is to hunker down, play defense, and protect what they've got. They're scared. They're like a squirrel in the middle of the road with a fast-moving car heading straight for it. They turn left, then right, then freeze. Only the fast reflexes of the car driver can save the day. But a crisis doesn't care. It won't swerve to miss you. Survival requires action.
Hard times bring out the motivational slogans. One of the most popular slogans in times of recession is "Recession? What recession? I refuse to participate in the recession." I understand the idea behind that line of thinking. The problem is that if you don't recognize the existence of a recession, you'll likely miss the extraordinary opportunity it presents. Not participating in a recession means that it's business as usual. But it's most definitely not business as usual. Everything's different, and you have to take advantage of the changes. You should not only participate in a recession but do it with the pedal to the medal. Don't pretend that it doesn't exist -- use it.
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