At sometime or another everyone has a crisis in their life. These dramas are often career or business related, in fact it can often be the trigger for a new business to start. “I couldn’t get a proper job so I decided to start my own business.” Even in established businesses the helter skelter of world events can cause a few unpleasant surprises with slumps, downturns, financial troubles and even weird plagues all impacting on our business.
I am often asked to speak on ‘change’ and how to survive it. I even try to apply my thoughts to my own business but I think to describe what is happening now as change would be like coming home to find your house has been turned into an igloo, that your dog had sprouted wings and was gliding amongst the trees, and your children had become raspberry blancmanges. The comment, “Hmm, things have changed a bit round here” would somehow seem inadequate.
So, how do we gain from such events? The answer is, stuckness. Stuckness is a Buddhist, sixties, hippy sort of thing. As an ageing (or aged) hippy myself, I am a big fan of a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig and it is where I first encountered stuckness. Let me explain it for you. Imagine you enter a room, a room you often enter and leave without too much thought. Then one day, as you start to leave, the door handle comes off in your hand. Now you are stuck and you can indulge in some stuckness thinking. Do it with questions: what do door handles do? By revolving the handle, some machinery in the door converts rotary motion in the linear sliding of the bolt. Can I find a way of moving that bolt? Is the handle still attached on the other side? Is there someone I can communicate with who could release me? Can I leave by another route, the window perhaps? Why do I want to leave the room anyway?
Can you see what is happening? From a thoughtless routine visit we have developed alternative gameplay, mechanical understanding and new co-operative personal relationships.
When people talk to me about starting a business they tend to focus on their core skills, be it electrician, writer, hairdresser, or cook. Imagine an employee sitting in a room with a hatch in the left wall and a hatch in the right wall. The work comes through the left hand hatch, they apply their core skill to it (they write on it, wire it up, or cook it) and then pass it through the right hatch. They care little what is beyond those hatches, that outside the left hatch are design, sales and marketing, and outside the right hatch are packing, distribution and accounts. Now things are getting tougher we have a great chance to enhance our personal skill base and value by a bit of stuckness thinking. Where is the work going to come from, how can I tell more people about me, who can I team up with to move things forward, how can we make these things cheaper, how can we make a bigger margin, and how do I get paid quicker?
Stuckness – try it, you could end up stronger.