A New Beginning

I am going to call 2008 “The Year of Quicksand”. 2008 started-out relatively strong and at-ease – but this proved deceptive as the observable global heath was hiding the real rot underneath.

All it took was one miss-step, and the struggle began. And it seemed that the more we struggled, the deeper we sank – just like quicksand.

By any stretch of the imagination, it has been a very tumultuous year. Every day, we are endlessly bombarded with tales of conflict and crisis from every source of media and gossip. It gets to the point where, to some, the news turns to static or “white noise”, ignored for it’s ubiquitous – whilst for others it feels as a boxer would feel an endless series of body-blows, each report resulting in a struggle to keep the strength in one’s arms to maintain protection.

For your consideration, just a very few of the events that hit the news in 2008…

– The price of oil

– The price of oil collapses.

– House prices continue to tumble and foreclosures are up .

– The Unemployment Rate has increased to 6.7%

AIG almost evaporates without help from the Federal Government.

– Credit-markets have dried-up .

Banks collapse .

Banks get Federal monies to survive.

– Fannie-Mae and Freddy-Mac taken-over by government .

– Stock-market sell-off. DJIA down almost 50% from its high to its low .

– Private Equity and Hedge-Funds scramble to unwind investments .

– With tons of cash looking for an investment, Private Equity and Hedge-Funds scramble to find partners for

– State and local governments struggle to balance their budgets as tax revenue decreases.

-Iceland goes bankrupt .

Lehman Brothers collapses.

– In the twenty-first century, there are pirates on the high-seas again.

– The Big-3 are on the brink of bankruptcy .

Madoff runs a Ponzi-scheme which results in investors losing $50-Billion.

Barack Obama elected President of the United States.

Congress is dominated by the Democrats as Republicans are “turfed-out”.

– Tim Russert and Paul Newman pass.

… and there were countless other challenges, both domestically and abroad, that were faced by all of the world this year.

But 2009 should bring a renewed spirit to all…

There will be a new President in the White House which will instill a certainty that was unattainable during the elections and the period between the election and inauguration – and this will beget stability. Stability will beget confidence – a confidence that is sorely necessary and which will mark the beginning of the long march back to prosperity.

It does not matter as much the minutia of the policies and programs. What matters is that there is a credible and transparent leadership which will serve as the rally-point for everyone around the world to follow. Always remember, a leader is not a titled position, or one of rank, or even one who is elected. A leader is a leader because people are willing to follow. And if a leader looks over his shoulder and sees nobody following, he is no longer a leader – he’s a nobody who is merely out for a walk.

Most importantly, we must look to ourselves and our own actions – and be held accountable. Is not each of us, individually, culpable to a certain extent for the situation in which we find ourselves presently? Do we look to the greater good or solely to our own interests?

Do we protect the environment where were reside? Did we try “flipping houses” for the quick buck? Do we drive SUV’s? Were we greedy? Did we look to gain personally at the knowing expense of others? Do we live beyond our means? Did we take care of ourselves physically? Did we help our neighbors? Did we do anything to increase our knowledge? Did we hone our professional skills?

It serves no useful purpose to place blame. Learn from the past – and take the necessary, prudent and measured actions to prevent it from recurring – don’t live in the past. There will be time for prosecution and retribution later – but we must concentrate our efforts on working the problem.

We cannot look to others for the solution – whether in a policy, an action, a pill to take, or a button to push. We cannot expect a “Messiah” to come from “on-high” to save us from ourselves. And we cannot sell ourselves short – for each of us has the power to influence our lot in life, and the lot of those around us.

Do what you can, with what you got, from where you are.”

Teddy Roosevelt

Each of us has a finite capacity for influence and effect. But that is no excuse to be paralyzed and to do nothing. All it takes a conscious effort and a belief that you can make difference, even if not on the macro level, but closer to home.

So, my resolution for 2009 is:

– Do something each day to help my physical, spiritual, and emotional self.

– Do something each day to help the members of my family.

– Do something each day to help a neighbor or a stranger.

– Do something each day to help my environment.

– Do something each day to improve my company and those who are dependant (employees, clients, vendors) on its

– Fight a fight that is worth fighting, and not just the fights I can win.

– Forgive (but not necessarily forget) transgressions.

– Be accountable and responsible for my actions – defer no blame.

– Try to leave a positive and indelible impression on all with whom I (or my business) have contact.

Holiday Wishes

And so as we come to the end of another year, we find ourselves reflective of the year’s hard fought battles, won and lost, of loves arrived and departed, and of business successes and disappointments.

With rebuilding spirit, we look with great anticipation to what lay before us in the coming year.

And, most importantly, we look to reconnect over the next few weeks with our families and closest friends.

It has been a great pleasure to know you, or to work with you, or to write for you this past year. So, as the Irish cheer goes,..

“May the best of your 2008 be the worst of your 2009.”

About the author

Joseph F Paris Jr

Joseph Paris is an international expert in the field of Operational Excellence, organizational design, strategy development and deployment, and helping companies become high-performance organizations.  His vehicles for change include being the Founder of; the XONITEK Group of Companies; the Operational Excellence Society; and the Readiness Institute.

He is a sought-after speaker and lecturer and his book, “State of Readiness” has been endorsed by senior leaders at some of the most respected companies in the world.

Click here to learn more about Joseph Paris or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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