59th Edition — March 22, 2020
Staring the past honestly in the face, rather than letting your memory play tricks on you, is the best way to form realistic expectations of the future.Jason Zweig, The Panic of 2020? Oh, I Made a Ton of Money – and So Did You, WSJ, March 20, 2020
1. Core Values Will be Stressed Tested
I’ve made a decent living at helping clients to continually stress test their business models during the past 20 years. More importantly, those core values listed on your company’s website will be put to the test over and over again.
This past week, I witnessed a COO making an unethical decision that was later rescinded. She thought the current crisis justified a decision even though her client would have fired her firm had they known about it. Thankfully, that decision was rescinded.
Here’s hoping we rise far above the values we hold to be true for all times, all places, and all the people we encounter. Mine have been challenged too, so we’re in this together.
This Week’s Podcast
Mark and Bruce continue the conversation regarding core values being challenged in trying times. They also revisit the Stockdale Paradox.
2. It’s Time to Apply What We’ve Read
Friday evening, I spent an hour with a client going over numbers. Before we got to work, we revisited the Stockdale Paradox that Collins wrote about in Good To Great. Remember?
Admiral Stockdale was tortured nearly two dozen times during the Vietnam War in a prison camp where he was held in captivity for 8 years.
According to Stockdale, he was able to survive this horror because “I never lost faith in the end of the story.” Those who didn’t make it were the optimists. They were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas and Christmas would come, and Christmas would go.” This would repeat for subsequent holidays.
According to Stockdale, the optimists died of a broken heart.
3. Coming to Grips With the Brutal Facts
Stockdale goes on to add, and this is important …
You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.From Good to Great – Harper Business
Personally and professionally, we need to accept the brutal facts at hand knowing there is an endpoint. We just do not know what and when that endpoint is.
As a great lecturer in Lubbock, Texas once said many times to his students, “Where the strongest winds blow, the strong oaks grow.” This is a time we’ll be getting stronger as the winds blow long and hard.
4. Concerned Yet Calm
I’ve been hearing the word ‘calm’ on numerous occasions during the global COVID-19 crisis. I’d like to offer a few more ‘c’ words.
- Courage – we’re not the first society to endure hardships like these today. The polio epidemic, the Asian flu, world wars and rationing, The Great Depression, and so many more. Courage is a word to never forget in these uncertain times.
- Confidence – next to joy and happiness, there may be no greater or powerful emotion than confidence. As financial leaders, we have to exude confidence as it provides rays of hope to those around us.
- Clarity – this is the hardest ‘c’ on this list. The way I’m addressing a cloudy and confusing future is to be clear about the decisions I’m making today. While clarity might be lacking, being clear in the present will lead to better outcomes tomorrow and beyond.
What are your additional ‘c’ words?
5. Finding Humor In Times of Crisis
The publisher of CFO Bookshelf works in Columbia, Missouri. He’s noticed that residents have picky palates. No one seems to like crunchy peanut butter, nor the gourmet type either. If you live in another town, come on over, there’s plenty in supply.
One more thing–here’s hoping criminals will take a 90- to a 180-day sabbatical on breaking the law.
Thank You For Reading
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Take care and stay confident and strong this week. Always be learning and growing in times of hardship.