by Glen Feechan
Remember the dim, distant days of September 2008, when Gordon Brown was almost universally unpopular, wasn’t expected to last the year in his role as Prime Minister and everything he touched seemed to go wrong.
I am writing this on 13th October and Gordon’s plan to save the banks seems to be well-received by the markets and looks set to be followed by the rest of Europe and the US. The rest of the world seems to be turning to Gordon for advice and leadership on what to do about the crisis, weeks after his party didn’t even want him as leader.. What happened?
Clearly Gordon Brown has far greater experience than his fellow world leaders in dealing with the financial markets, from his time as Chancellor, however, I don’t think this fully explains the turnaround in his fortunes. There are some aspects of the last few weeks that we can all learn from.
Primarily, Gordon Brown didn’t panic. When bankers, the media and a large proportion of the general public sounded like Private Frazer from Dads’ Army – crying “we’re doomed!” – Gordon analysed the problem, and what he could do about it, and then got on with the job.
Lessons from Gordon
1. Don’t Panic
This time it’s Corporal Jones from Dads’ Army. It is so easy to get swept away on the tide of hysteria and bring your business activity to a halt – not because customers are not buying, but because you have stopped making decisions for fear of making a bad one. It is imperative that we review our activity and decide what activities are important for moving the business forward, and make sure we continue doing them!
2. Work on your Circle of Influence
A useful model I often use, from the personal development field, is that of the “Circle of Influence” and the “Circle of Concern”. This model can apply to both individuals and businesses. Our Circle of Concern contains all of the things that concern us, that bother us. This circle is usually very large, and has recently become a lot larger for most people and businesses. Our Circle of Influence is a smaller circle, inside the Circle of Concern, which contains all of those things that we can influence.
We all get dragged into our Circles of Concern, but the time we spend there is of no use, as we can’t change anything. As a result, our time and effectiveness is gobbled up by our worries, actually shrinking Circle of Influence.
The good news though, is that if we spend our time in our Circle of Influence, we are not only a great deal more effective, but our Circle of Influence actually grows as we move forward, bringing things that were previously in our Circle of Concern under our control.
So much of the global financial crisis is in our Circle of Concern and not in our Circle of Influence that this model is incredibly appropriate at this moment. Work out what is under your control and put all of your efforts into that. The worst case is that you still fail, however this effort will not have made things worse, whereas worrying about the things you can’t change very well might.
3. Put it all in perspective
Keep a clear head and remember what’s important. I bet if you were to list the top three most important things in your life, they would have nothing to do with the FTSE-100 or the banks’ liquidity, or even your house, car or job. Take some time to spend with your partner, your children, your friends or in nature. The credit-crunch threatens none of these, but worrying about it might!
Here’s to a profitable next twelve months.
Glen Feechan is Chief Executive of the Feechan Consulting group of companies and editor of Not Just Numbers. Email Glen at firstname.lastname@example.org.