React, Analyze, Act

Every once in a while, a sense of unease comes over me as if I have become untethered and feeling adrift from what I know.

Not to be confused with the near euphoria I feel when I embark on an adventure into some unknown, this feeling of being detached is somewhat cold and comes with it a sense of being isolated and entirely alone.

There is usually no single event that initiates such a feeling. In fact, if I can trace such a feeling to a single event, it is dealt with quite deftly. I liken it more to a “ disturbance in the Force ”, as they describe in the epic “ Star Wars, ” where something is amiss, but I am not quite certain what. Sometimes I feel strained, sometimes I just feel ill at ease, and sometimes I question my value and whether I am going to leave a favorable mark for having existed at all.

Almost always, the source of the “disturbance” has something to do with my professional position, and its responsibilities. Sometimes the feeling is unfounded or the source is minor – having been caught in time before allowed to grow into something big. Sometimes the source is big and requires a lot of energy and attention. And sometimes the source can be all-consuming and would drag me into the abyss – if allowed.

However, the more challenging and menacing the threat is – the greater the potential the reward. Whether on the field of battle ( Thermopylae , D-Day ), in our novels ( Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea ), in politics ( Truman vs Dewey ), or even the chessboard ( Fischer vs Spassky ); we remember the boldest of struggles. We don’t remember or celebrate the mundane and routine.

So, I usually and reluctantly welcome my feeling ill-at-ease knowing that I will find the “Tao” (the “way”) – if I look hard enough. All I have to do is find the source or kernel of the disturbance and harness the energy contained therein into something positive.

It’s sort of like when I play a round of golf – and mind you, I “play” golf, I don’t “work” golf. I look at my golf outings as a peaceful respite. But I still don’t want to be on the course thinking, “I shoulda taken up checkers.” There is a saying, “if you shoot over 100, you don’t have any business on the course, and if you shoot less that 70, you don’t have any business.” There are days when I can’t seem to get anything right and I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is. Sometimes, when I am in such a circumstance, I will step up to the tee and swing so mightily at the ball as to grunt out a Whitmanesque “Barbaric yawp.” My thinking is that if I violently exercise all off the golf demons that are infecting my swing, my purging of all that is bad will allow me to find the way back to a form that is more successful. It usually works to varying degrees. But I always feel better for it.

Over the last couple of years in particular, I have endured waves of such disturbances. And I have tried to find the “Tao” – perhaps sometimes I have tried too hard. The biggest disturbance has been an unease about the marketplace with regards to our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) practice. I had a sense that the market had moved, but I was not sure that it had and, if so, where it had gone or where it was going. Someone had “moved my cheese.”

Recently, I had the good fortune of losing a big project that I very much wanted to win. I say that it was good fortune that I lost it because I was afforded the very rare opportunity to see precisely why we lost it. It was quite the revelation.

Fortunately, what I now “knew” about the marketplace validated what I had already “felt” for some time – but now I had the facts to support these feelings and to what extent. And having felt as I had, I had already toyed with some business models to evolve my ERP business practice in support of the new paradigm. Now armed with hard facts, I was able to quickly see where I had to react, where I had to fine-tune, and to what degree.

These changes are now in place at XONITEK and a new course has been set with respect to our ERP practice. Even so, I am more aware of where the ERP market is going and extra vigilant in my watch.

Technology changes and markets move. Adhering to Moore ’s Law , they do it with ever increasing velocity. An entrepreneur has instincts and should always be aware of what the “gut” is telling him. He must be able to analyze and react to changes swiftly and deliberately. He must lead.

In today’s “rat-race,” if someone moves your cheese and you can’t find or replace it quickly, you will starve to death. And starvation is a slow and painful way to go.


Paris is the Founder and Chairman of the XONITEK Group of Companies; an international management consultancy firm specializing in all disciplines related to Operational Excellence, the continuous and deliberate improvement of company performance AND the circumstances of those who work there – to pursue “Operational Excellence by Design” and not by coincidence. 

He is also the Founder of the Operational Excellence Society, with hundreds of members and several Chapters located around the world, as well as the Owner of the Operational Excellence Group on Linked-In, with over 25,000 members.

For more information on Paris, please check his Linked-In Profile at:

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