Recently I’ve been talking to a number of people in business who have got really depressed by the state of the economy.  They’re suffering from a bad dose of recession depression.  We all have bad days, and it’s OK to feel fed up occasionally, but when it happens most days, you’ve got a problem and you need to fix it.

So, what’s the issue with griping about the state of the economy and your business?  It’s simple – you tend to achieve whatever you focus on.  There’s a function of your brain that’s called your Reticular Activating System, or RAS, for short.  Whatever you concentrate upon, the RAS will help you find it.

The best example I’ve heard about this is when you get a new car.  You choose a car that you don’t often see on the road, in a colour that’s a bit different to all the others.  Then, when it finally arrives you go and pick it up from the showroom and as you drive home, you see three others on the road!  They were there all along, but until you’d got one, you didn’t notice them.  That’s your Reticular Activitating System at work.

On top of this, your subconscious will try to make sense of the world through whatever filters you decide to give it.  So if you spend a lot of time thinking about the recession, watching the doom and gloom on the news and thinking about how customers might leave you, that’s precisely what you’ll find will happen.  Which brings me to the 3 people I’ve met in the past couple of weeks who’ve demonstrated this principle in action.

  1. The first was an independent consultant who said his business is doing roughly half what it was a couple of years ago.  He said he’s so depressed by the economy that he only works from 10 am to 2pm, because it’s hopeless.  Looking on as a third party, I asked him how many hours he used to work.  Of course, he was doing twice as many hours a day.  So now he’s working half as much and earning half the amount.  Hmm.
  2. The second was a client who’s winning more sales at higher prices and has figured out how to do even more – he texted me at weekends now with the results of his latest actions.  His energy is buzzing because of his successes.
  3. The third is a potential client who, when talking about his business, put a fair bit of focus onto the problems he’s experienced because of the government.  In fact, every discussion we had generally ended with a comment about problems with the council, or the tax man, or central government.  Hmmm.

So the lessons we can all take from this?  When we look for problems, we can be sure we’ll find them.  When we focus on success, we’ll have the energy to chase after more success.  When we think it’s all somebody else’s fault, we’ll find somebody to blame.

The problems won’t fix themselves just by complaining about them, the actions of government are beyond quick influence.  So surround yourself with positive people and focus on what you can change.  It reminds me, in fact, of a favourite quote…

“God give me the strength to change the things I can
The courage to accept the things I cannot.
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Now go focus on something positive for your business, remind yourself of this positive goal every day, work hard to achieve it, then savour the results…

5 Comments

  1. Balham Restaurant on November 3rd, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hear Hear!

    As you know, when we first started talking I was obsessed by the recession. ‘Luxury spending’ on dining out was bound to be the first to be hit.

    But we’ve focused on the positives – essentially on being the best – and are out performing last year.

    “Aim for the stars and hit the tree tops?” – Rubbish … I’m getting my space boots on!

    Catch ya later

    Bahi



  2. Lee on November 3rd, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Bahi!

    I’m so pleased you’ve commented again – and on one of our favourite topics of discussion too! Brilliant to hear you buzzing still – can’t wait to talk on Thursday!

    Lee



  3. Riverside Restaurant on November 3rd, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Lee

    I have to say without many of the ideas you helped us implement in the business we may have suffered with the effects of the recession, however since working together we have increased sales by almost 100% on last year (yes that is double), increased gross margin and are no longer just breaking even!!
    My advice to those who need help, go get it, work hard and implement it, wait for the results…… it won’t take long!!



  4. Lee on November 5th, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Andrew,

    Great to hear from you – talking to you on the phone after your comments was brilliant. It’s inspiring to see companies doubling their sales regardless of the economy.

    That’s precisely the attitude you need. I’m looking forward to my next steak!

    Lee



  5. Jon on November 9th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Totally agree, why do we listen to / watch things that give us "recession depression" – avoiding the negative can be simple (although I look forward to being able to listen to Radio 4 in the morning again – one day). Your tip about surrounding oneself with postive people is so right, Jon



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