Are You Focusing On a Winning Season?

As we find ourselves several weeks into yet another baseball season, when hope springs eternal for youth, high school, college and professional teams, ask yourself what would it take to regain that same optimism in business?

Nobody goes through the rigors of pre-season baseball training camp with the idea they’re going to lose. Sure, professional players have an economic motivation and athletes at major colleges may think that they have a shot at professional stardom. But what about the thousands of other players in small colleges, high schools and youth leagues who work every bit as hard?

I suspect most of them play because they enjoy the game, expect their hard work will pay off in victories, and are willing to risk putting their athleticism on the line to achieve their goal. In many ways, they’ve overcome their fears—the fear of striking out, making a mistake or coming up short despite their best efforts—to play a game.

Unfortunately, this seems to be less the case these days when it comes to the business “game.”

Perhaps that’s understandable given the economic rollercoaster of recent years and the dire COVID-19 ramifications of the past year. Even though the economy has stabilized from its darkest days, every piece of good news seems to be offset with some negative information. And the constant barrage of information on the web, social media, mobile devices and other 24/7 communications only makes the mood swings worse.

An article by Edward Marshall, a change management consultant and leadership coach who serves as president of The Marshall Group Inc., Chapel Hill, NC, notes the current economic stresses can make people feel like victims. Most people don’t think they created the problem and therefore don’t have much influence on how to get out of it. However, they feel the consequences every day.

In a macro sense, these pessimists are probably right that there’s not too much individuals can do to change the overall economic situation. Admittedly, there’s been a shift in business conditions that will force adjustments. But some of these adjustments can come from within.

Here’s Marshall’s take on adapting to the new economic climate: “To meet this paradigm shift, we get to reach inside and find out what we’re really made of, what truly matters—our values, whether we are reactive or proactive, how we work through difficult problems, and how we treat other people who are close to us at home and at work.”

Forging ahead certainly involves some risks, but with those risks can come great rewards. As a USA Today article pointed out, challenging economic times and societal shifts often provide new opportunities.

Want proof? Sixteen of the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones industrial average were started during a recession or depression. These include Procter & Gamble, Disney, Alcoa, McDonald’s, General Electric and Johnson & Johnson.

While many of these companies were founded during the Great Depression, more recent examples abound. The early 1970s were not a banner era for our country either. The Vietnam War had divided the country, the Watergate scandal erupted and gas prices jumped by nearly 50% in two years. Consumer confidence was at an all-time low, yet this is the era that spawned the well-recognized brands Supercuts, Chili’s and Cablevision, as well as a little company called Microsoft.

Not every company will become a Microsoft, but maybe it’s time to look beyond the current malaise and find ways to promote your business, examine new markets or cash-in on a great idea. As the air turns warmer and the sound of umpire calls echo across the diamond, it’s the perfect opportunity for business to emulate the enthusiasm that greets a new baseball season.