If you’ve read any of my books, you know I don’t like the soft clichés that many businesspeople tend to use. I recall once when a sales manager trotted out the well-worn “There is no ‘I’ in team,” I commented, “Yeah, but if you look real hard, you’ll find ‘me’.” (Note: I didn’t last long at that job … heck, I didn’t last long at any job. But I digress.)
One of the reasons I don’t like clichés is people often use them in place of taking action, or to disguise something. For example, when someone says “I’m not book smart, but … ” all I hear is “I’m not smart.” It’s just a silly phrase used to cover up some undesirable thing, and seeks to excuse the person from the action of actually learning about something.
A recent use of phrases to cover up something was used a lot in 2009. In the face of a very real recession, many “positive thinkers” said some really silly things. At first, they said things like, “The recession isn’t real … after all, there’s still a line at the drive thru.” As if the wait time for your Big Mac is a valid economic barometer (Warren Buffett take note).
But my favorite line was uttered by a “positive thinking” entrepreneur I know. He’s always got a cliché for everything. And his comment on the recession was this: “I’m not acknowledging any recession, and I’m certainly not participating in it.” Actually, I heard this line of thought from quite a few businesspeople, both in person and through the media. All of these people had declining sales, but hey, they were keeping a brave face, and weren’t going to give the recession the time of day. Wow … how bold. And noble. And how utterly dumb …
I’m sorry, but you can’t ignore your way out of a recession. You can’t choose to not participate. That’s not the way it works. You can choose to not participate in a recession about as well as you can choose to not catch a cold. This should be “Business 101,” but in the face of declining sales, you have to do two things:
1. Recognize and acknowledge sales are declining.
2. Do something about it.
Think about that for a minute and understand what I am trying to tell you. A recession is very real. If you choose to ignore it, then you are also choosing to not do anything about it (because doing something would be admitting it exists). Only when you say something like, “You know, this recession is pretty darn real,” can you follow it up with “I’d better do something to raise sales.” So that’s my advice for today –- forget the clichés and actually admit things aren’t going as well as they were. And then start doing something about it.
To find out what Dan did about it, read his next article.
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