And Now, a Look Ahead...
At work, on television and in the newspapers, almost everyone is consumed with the global financial crisis. With good reason: individuals, companies, even entire governments are feeling the pain of tightened credit markets, increased foreclosures on residential and commercial mortgages, and decreased consumer spending.
Despite all of this talk, there remains a great deal that is not yet known. No one can honestly say how long the crisis will last, how pervasive its effects will be and what it will take to turn things around.
Looking forward, we see even more unknowns on the horizon. As of the writing of this column, the new U.S. President has not yet been chosen by the electorate. No matter who is sworn into office next January, it is clear that the new administration will drive significant changes in trade, economic, tax, health care and a whole host of other policies.
During this period of unprecedented uncertainty, when so much is out of your hands, what can you do? First, try not to agonize about the things you cannot control, including the global economy. Be aware, yes, but don't become paralyzed by issues over which you have little or no influence. Second, take charge of those things that are within your sphere of influence—especially your business.
As you approach 2009, rededicate yourself to understanding your core strengths and unique challenges. Take an objective look at your products, services and leadership. And begin planning your response to the inevitable changes in the political and economic landscape.
The solutions to our global economic problems will doubtless require decisive action by policymakers at the highest levels of government. The solutions to your current and future business challenges, however, rest in your own hands.