By Curt Mabry
When you grow up in south Mississippi, you quickly learn to accept violent storms as a fact of life. We even have seasons for hurricanes and tornadoes. However, we generally know how to prepare for them and can weather them well – although the unpredictability of them means it is a roll of the dice whether or not your family will sustain property damage.
I remember noticing that only certain types of trees were uprooted – Oaks, pines, magnolias and other hardwoods. Live oaks that had stood for centuries lay prone on the ground, alongside skyscraping pine trees that now stretched parallel to the ground.
As I walked along the pond banks and creek sides, I noticed that the willows still seemed mostly unharmed. Sure, the violent winds had shorn the leaves from the drooping branches, but within a few weeks there were buds and leaves anew, bending towards the water.
The felled oaks and pines, however, had been sliced up and carried away by the road crews, and the gaping craters left behind by their uprooted bolls had been filled in and covered over with new grass. It was a little sad to see the holes in the forest skylines where once monolithic trees had stood like tireless soldiers.
The world around us is subject to several types of storms, not all of them meteorological. Advancing technologies, rapidly emerging markets with their various and assorted cultural baggage, and the ease in which businesses can be created and destroyed require that a successful business must emulate the willow – flex and bend, readjust to weather the storm.
The days of “We’ve always done it this way” are disappearing into nostalgia – and the successful companies are taking note of this and exploring new and sometimes surprising directions.
Consider the successes and failures of recent years – The obstinate and inflexible companies fail, whereas the daring risk takers are the Cinderella stories.
Improvisation: built on foundations of acceptance, chivalry, and taking risks; teaches us to see the world with an attitude of positivity. Everything is seen as a gift, filled with potential. The saying that every problem is an opportunity is taken a step further, as improvisers are unafraid to fail. The improviser knows that failure is simply part of the learning process, and the flexibility to flow among and through the different forces is the key to abundance and growth.
Consider: If you and your staff grumble about change – are you really prepared to succeed? Alternatively, how would it play out if your team faced problems and pitfalls with the word YES and sought (and exploited) the positive potential?
Consultant, Crescendo Communications Consulting
Founder of Zmack improv comedy group