Post by M.J. Ryan, contributing Women On Business writer
Chris owns a business installing high end wood flooring. During the refinancing boom, her business grew to $4 million. As the economy has slowed, demand for her products has shrunk. Competitors are offering much lower prices and customers have less spare cash to choose the high end option–if they can afford new floors at all. This development has taken her totally by surprise: “[I] figured it would just roll along and I would do my estimates and the phone would ring….I would have thought that by now I’d be riding the crest of a wave.”
Contrast that response to my client Alice. She’s the CEO of a real estate development company in Las Vegas. When I asked her how she was doing in the downturn, he confided, “I knew the real estate boom couldn’t go on forever. So I created a rainy day fund. I’m not only using it to tide me over, but to buy out troubled developers around town.”
Smart woman, Alice. She knows intuitively there is only one sure thing in life–that things will change. How and when none of us know. But that everything will is absolutely guaranteed. The Buddha called this awareness the First Noble Truth—the fact that everything in life is impermanent. Fighting against that only causes us suffering, he taught, because it’s fighting against reality. Accepting that truth diminishes our suffering because we’re in alignment with the way life is. When we accept that the only thing constant is change, we aren’t so taken by surprise when the change occurs. Night follows day, the moon waxes and wanes. Fall and winter happen as often as spring and summer.
I empathize with Chris because I too learned this lesson the hard way. Riding the wave of a couple bestsellers as a book publisher, I kept expanding my company and had just bought a big new house when the largest returns in the industry rolled back through my door, leaving a deficit the company never could recover from. No matter how many predictions of future sales based on past sales the CFO created, they were wrong because the whole industry was going through a game-changing shift. Wish I had planned for the boom not continuing forever. It would have prevented a lot of sleepless nights.
Even though most of us aren’t crystal ball readers and can’t know for sure when and how change will hit us, we can at least keep in our awareness the simple fact that it will. And at a more rapid pace than ever before in human history. Our work and personal lives will change—guaranteed–and we need to be ready with the appropriate attitudes and actions so that, like Alice, we minimize the negative impacts and capitalize on the opportunities. How can you be better prepared for change right now?