Getting the heads-up doesn’t always help

Having a great view of a developing situation does not guarantee you can do anything about it.  “Forewarned is forearmed” is only true to a certain extent.  For example, if the situation is unwelcomed the option of burying your head in the sand and hoping it will go away is still available.  Not an approach I would ever recommend. Other times, when an unfavorable situation emerges our ability to do anything about it is limited or simply nonexisitent. Situations occasionally need to be allowed to play out to see what happens, or get to a point where intervention is mandated.. In these cases, being “forewarned” can only be a heads-up! A bit like knowing there is a storm developing on the horizon. You have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

The storm can always change direction after all.

Structural change versus cyclical change

There are two types of changes in economics, structural and cyclical. Structural changes very long lived. Cyclical changes tend to be disturbances that play out leaving the circumstances to return to more “normal” levels.

I started a restaurant river front restaurant in 1996 and a lttle over three years ago I had an incling things were changing at the restaurant. If you take a step back and look at any situation in context it’s possible to see the situation within the situation. There are always signs.  The demographics of the restaurant’s location have changed considerably over the two decades since it opened. Once home to many businesses the location is now overwhelmingly residential. And the Body Corporate Committee governing my restaurant’s location voted to erect a fence! A killer for a river front restaurant. Overwhelmingly the changes were structural.

We all have choices

For a long time my hands were tied the restaurant was leased and my tenant still had control of the premises (although he had already chosen not to renew).  The fence formed a very effective barrier between the restaurant and the riverfront making the venue unappealing for the wedding events it had become known for. Once the tenant vacated (and a prospective lease holder also fell through) I was left with a choice, continue to fight to have the fence removed and leave the restaurant vacant, or continue to fight and take the restaurant on as a project myself, I chose the later.  After 2 months of solid work the venue is set to re-open today, it has been an interesting process.  I have felt out of my depth at times and my metal has been tested responding or re-acting to any number of problems encountered along the way.


Here is what I have learned

You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.

George Lucas

  1. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start. I know there is value in having a plan and that plan will always be subject to change because you cannot foresee every bump in the road and every detour ahead. The important thing is to make a start and trust that the next step will reveal itself as a natural progression of the step already taken. Action begets action. Unless you make a start you risk going around in circles.
  2. Have a vision. this is critical! If you don’t have a vision you are absolutely sold on you can bet no-one else will be sold on it either.
  3. Choose who to listen to. Everyone has an opinion and if you listen an act on them all you will be overcome with a plethora of well meaning often conflicting opinions. Solicit feedback from people who are both credible and have knowledge and understanding in your areas of concern. If the feedback is warranted take it on board. If not discard it and move on.
  4. Get good at shutting out “noise”. This is closely related to points 2 and 3. If you are clear on what it is you are out to achieve, anything that falls outside of it can be disregarded. This is critical to focus and driving an outcome.
  5. Identify your strengths and play to them. Identify your weaknesses and outsource them to someone more competent than you.
  6. Surround yourself with a great team. The acronym for team is Together Everybody Achieves More is certainly my experience. Of course it goes without saying choose your team wisely. There must be values alignment and a high degree of accountability.
  7. Delegate effectively. If you have a tendency to micro manage you will need to rein it in. For a start it is a waste of your time. It also has the unwanted effect of dis-empowering those around you. Be clear of your expectations, communicate them clearly and then let go. This is one of the key difference between leadership and management. Choose to show leadership instead.
  8. Expect things to go wrong. Let’s face things can and will go wrong. You can either react (act in a past based way) which may or may not be helpful. Or, you can respond which means you can take your time, unless it is life and death. In the meantime the situation will either have resolved itself or you can be more certain that you can respond from a space of clarity.
  9. Trust yourself. This one can be tough, especially if the situation is out of control, running over time, or you are out of your depth. If you have followed the steps above it will turn out. It is just a matter of time.