Management Articles


The Vision to Prevail in an Economic Slowdown - Peripheral That Is

By: Jim McCormick

Jim McCormick draws on his experience as the former Chief Operating Officer of an international design firm, an MBA and a degree in engineering to help organizations improve performance. He is co-author of Motivational Selling, editor of 365 Daily Doses of Courage and author of the forthcoming book Seize Opportunity - A Practical Guide to Exploiting Opportunities. More information is available at

It's Spring. It's warming. In the last few weeks, the temperature at jump altitude has moderated. The blast of air as we roll up the door on the skydiving plane at 15,000 feet is no longer frigid. Two days ago, it was even a relatively moderate 42 degrees (F).

We're no longer likely to feel the sting of ice crystals on our faces as we fall through a thin layer of frozen moisture. Jumpers are starting to leave their heavy, winter layers on the ground. Under canopy, it's mild. The time between freefall and landing is becoming more playful - to be enjoyed and not just tolerated.

From 1,000 feet in the air, you can start to notice a swath of orange and yellow emerging from within the fields of green. The wildflower seeds have weathered another winter. They are sending forth their glorious reminder of Spring, of another winter past.

Even in the midst of the adrenaline soaked sport of skydiving, while hurling ourselves from aircraft miles above the ground, while clamoring to arrest our freefall and save our lives, there is the opportunity to cherish the reminders of the coming of Spring and the hope it brings with it.

Few things focus ones attention better than the challenge of surviving a skydive. There is a joyous clarity of purpose in freefall. The balance of life's issues melt away.

But the single-mindedness that is required to survive a jump can also assure that the experience is nothing more than survived. It can take an extraordinary experience, one most people will never know, the closest a person can come to joining birds in flight and make it into a exercise of survival. But if we are willing to maintain our peripheral vision in the face of this life threatening challenge, a willingness to be more aware, it can be an adventure of the senses. It is our choice. It always is.

And this is much like weathering an economic slowdown. You will likely survive by keeping an absolute focus on surviving, or you can take advantage of opportunities by maintaining your peripheral vision.

In the midst of an economic lull, of a slump in sales, of a profit crunch, we become very focused. The challenge is clear. Revenues growth and profit margins must be restored. There is clarity of purpose.

But in the frenzy of single-mindedness, as all other goals become secondary, are you missing opportunities? Are you missing the signs of an economic Spring? You must not.

This economic slowdown will pass. And so far, it is barely a slowdown. It is more like a runner taking a welcome rest between sprints. When it has passed, what will be the state of your customer relationships? When optimism is restored, will devastatingly costly employee turnover increase? How about the vendor relationships you have worked so hard to develop. Will your extraordinary efforts that went into creating them be negated by short-term decisions during this time of uncertainty?

Yes, there is a clarity of purpose in a time of economic uncertainty. It may not be the time for new initiatives. But lapsing into a survival mentality, while perhaps successful at restoring revenues and profitability, comes at a potentially enormous cost.

Don't miss the signs for a economic Spring. Don't miss the inexpensive opportunities to bolster a client relationship or exploit a passing opportunity because your laser-like focus on improving profitability and revenues has cost you your peripheral vision. Be the one who sees the emerging Spring wildflowers first. Stay open the possibilities there to be noticed and developed. It will be a richer experience, more than just financially. You'll be taking a risk, but all great accomplishments require it.

© Copyright 2001 Jim McCormick

Other Articles by Jim McCormick

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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