REALITY CHECKING: Your North Star in Any Challenge
If you told yourself, your team, or your family, this business will prevail, I just don’t know how long it will take,” then you’re familiar with the Stockdale Paradox. Or, you may have counted on being “back to normal soon.” By many standards, “soon” has come and gone.
An excerpt from a powerful book explains the intersection of optimism and reality checking. The author is Jim Collins and this is excerpted from his 2001 book, Good to Great.
And then, it dawned on me: “Here I am sitting in my warm and comfortable office … and I know the end of the story! I know that he gets out, reunites with his family, becomes a national hero, and gets to spend the later years of his life studying philosophy on this same beautiful campus. If it feels depressing for me, how on earth did he deal with it when he was actually there and did not know the end of the story?” “I never lost faith in the end of the story,” [U.S. Admiral James Stockdale, a Vietnam War POW] said, when I asked him. “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life.” … Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?” “Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.” “The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier. “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart … This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end … with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
A RedRover and University of Memphis survey conducted in May showed us 66% of area business owners believed their companies would return to growth this quarter. In fact, these respondents had more faith in their own company to return to Q4 growth than they did the local economy. While we haven’t conducted a follow-up survey to see where these businesses are today, it would be interesting to learn if the respondents believe Q4 was their North Star, or their false hope.
Hindsight is 20/20. Never before has that rung truer. Happy new year, and let’s not let this crisis go to waste.
If you are in need of outside objectivity to review your 2020 sales and marketing plan, now would be the perfect time to go through RedRover’s Growth Optimization (GO) process. In collaboration with you, our GO team will conduct extensive internal and external research. These findings guide our recommendations for your 2021 strategic plan grounded in the deep insights of an industry insider while still preserving objectivity. This strategy comes with a predictable ROI. And while we can’t predict everything, like a global pandemic, this process gives us deep industry knowledge that allows us to pivot quickly when needed as we did for this client.