A Conversation on ‘Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe’, with Pat Wagner
‘Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe’ provides a formula for staying above water as the oceans swell.
What stops us from making the hard choices?
We don’t want to give anything up. It feels like a loss, like a failure. We can be like hoarders: We identify our stuff with ourselves. Whether it’s an underperforming division of a company, or retail goods that aren’t selling, letting go of what isn’t working feels like we are losing a piece of ourselves.
Sometimes we have to kill our babies. My husband started the Office for Open Network in the 1970s. When I joined him, I began working on the monthly newsletter. It was beautiful, well produced, and took two weeks of my time every month to create. I poured my heart into it. One day my husband asked “If you stopped creating the newsletter today, would anyone notice?” I was devastated. I resisted, but several months later, after he had patiently asked again, I relented and gave the newsletter up. Out of our 800 subscribers, three noticed. So I gave it up. Now I had two extra weeks a month to reach out to clients, set up visits and appointments, and our income doubled.
Why don’t people plan for hard times? Is there a superstitious element?
Yes. But talking about worst case scenarios won’t make them happen. I was raised by Eastern European immigrants; if they weren’t facing the Russian winter or the Czar’s armies, it was advancing Nazis. There is always the possibility that something horrible lies over the next hill. Planning for failure is not the same as planning to fail. I’ve planned so that I know that if my business fails, we will still be OK. In the worst case we sell what we own, buy a small condo in a town with a low cost of living, and I can work retail while Leif programs computers.
Often, when hard times hit, people panic. They slash and burn staff and programs, and think they are being ‘business-like.’ Learn to be ready for crises with ‘Hard Choices: Thriving During Change and Catastrophe.’
Tip: Write down everything you count on: You count on your partner, your job, you count on a good economy, etc. Now, write down what you would do if you could no longer count on those things or people. You have to have a firm idea of what you rely on to be prepared to cope when those things go away.
An interesting WikiHow article on planning for success
For students, York College offers a Personal Strategic Plan
Some tips on disaster planning from the NFIB