In tough economic times, when life hands you lemons, the pessimist makes a sour face. The optimist makes lemonade. The entrepreneur goes a step farther and opens a lemonade stand. And the entrepreneur who is also a sales leadership consultant uses that stand to help others make more sales. Simplistic? Perhaps, but I think it draws an important distinction between personality types – and highlights the opportunity that awaits those who are entrepreneurs at heart, even in tough economic times. Here’s what I mean:
Is It a Crisis, a Challenge, or an Opportunity? (Or All Three?)
Difficult economic times, especially when they appear rapidly, may seem like a crisis at first. Certainly, they disrupt what had once been a comfortable status quo and make you reassess your options. But is a crisis always a disaster? Or can it also be an opportunity? It’s a common belief that the Chinese symbol for “Crisis” is represented by characters that independently mean “Challenge” and “Opportunity.” While this might not be quite so literal in translation, it provides a relevant metaphor: In any professional crisis, the challenge at hand can also bring new opportunities. Where you focus your attention will likely determine how quickly you land on your feet – perhaps even how quickly you build that lemonade stand!
Making the Best of a (Temporary) Bad Situation
When the economy struggles, so does the workforce. Often, this means the loss of a job that once seemed secure for the longer term. Of course, losing a job doesn’t only happen during an economic crisis; good people – talented, wise, experienced and successful people – might become unemployed due to market shifts, corporate mergers or buyouts, or perhaps even ageism when they are replaced by younger workers on the way up. I know several people recently furloughed who found themselves on the outside looking in – without severance pay! I know of another who had the offer of a new job at a new employer rescinded – after he had already resigned his current job. But regardless of the reason for the displacement, and despite prevailing economic conditions, you can make the best of a bad situation. Opportunities can be found – if you know where to look and are prepared to embrace your next act.
Finding Opportunity (and Passion and Purpose) in Your Next Act
It’s human nature to feel blindsided when a big-picture economic downturn triggers a personal and professional crisis. It’s also human nature to despair, to wallow in self-pity, to feel aimless. But if you’ve ever endured a crisis only to rise from the ashes and enjoy new success, you should know that a crisis can be a blessing in disguise. In fact, we often look back at the challenge and are thankful it took place. While we may not have wanted the crisis to occur, we realize it caused us to take stock and consider what we really want out of life. Are we really content to spend so much time on the road away from our family? Are we really content to make other people so much money? This list of introspective questions is endless. Bottom line: the challenge can, indeed, bring opportunity.
That opportunity is often the freedom to explore options. To re-examine what matters to you. To find your joy and then, as Henry David Thoreau wrote, to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams … and live the life you’ve imagined.” But first you must imagine that life. And you must prepare for it (actually, you’ve been preparing for it throughout your career – so don’t despair; all your hard work is not lost). But remember what Roman philosopher Seneca said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Opportunity. There’s that word again!
When you take stock, find your passion, and build on your successes, you will likely not only find opportunity, but also the kind of purpose that brings deep satisfaction in your next professional act.
Back to the Lemonade Stand
So, if you find yourself on the outside looking in after a successful career as a sales leader (by downsizing, forced retirement, etc.), don’t wallow in sour self-pity. And don’t settle for making lemonade out of those lemons. Think big, turn your past success into a springboard for future success. You’ll likely find not merely an opportunity, but also a pivot point toward a life of passion and purpose and professional fulfillment.
That’s what so many sales leadership consultants have done when they became licensed Sales Xceleration Advisors. They took a bad situation – often a crisis – and turned it into a golden opportunity to help others. They built a lemonade stand using the proven tools, systems, and services from Sales Xceleration and now help small to mid-sized businesses thrive, even in uncertain economic conditions. To learn more about the opportunity of becoming a sales leadership consultant, click here or contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.