One day, there`s a new boss. He or she comes to you and asks you how long it takes to make a widget. You reply that it takes about 8 hours. The boss looks at you and tells you that now you have to make them in 2 hours.
"That`s impossible," you say, and the boss tells you either to make them in 2 hours, or he`ll find someone else who can. "But that`s not fair," you say as the boss walks away. The last you hear is that either you get it done or you`re out of a job. Is it nice, or fair, right or wrong? The boss doesn`t care. Either you get it done or you`re fired!
There are two types of bosses. There`s the understanding one, who takes people and their feelings into consideration. Then there`s the "turnaround CEO," sometimes known as the hatchet man. These days, we hear about situations like this all the time. Wal-Mart is known for this type of pressure. Is it fair? Is it right?
Consider the astronauts on Apollo 13, when they developed a major set of problems with their return flight. There they were, out in space, and they called NASA to let them know there was a problem. The response from Ground Control was, "Fix it!"
Suppose those men had said they couldn`t? It was too hard---impossible, in fact---and nobody could fix the problem! Suppose they`d complained that it wasn`t fair, wasn`t realistic, and that their feelings weren`t being considered? The only response anyone could have made would have been, "Okay, then die!"
It`s amazing, isn`t it, how often the impossible gets done when someone`s life depends on it. History is filled with heroic efforts, miraculous "last minute saves," and all sorts of stories about how when it came down to choosing alive or dead, the outcome was staying alive. It`s amazing how often you manage to pull your own life out of a hat when the alternative is to die.
Would you prefer to choose your own moment of desperation, or would you rather have life`s circumstances choose it for you?
Let`s say you`ve got a product and you think it should sell for a certain price. You`re not selling many of your items, and so you have a decision to make. But it isn`t really a decision about pricing. It goes deeper than that. It`s a decision about whether or not you have a viable product in the first place. Ultimately, it`s a decision about whether your business will live or die.
In so many cases, a business is doing just fine making widgets. They`ve gotten comfortable with the process. Then another company figures out a better, cheaper, or more efficient way to make the same thing. Competition, which is the same as in Nature, provides that one or the other company will live or die. Either the first company competes or they go out of business.
Would you rather have a human being---a "boss"---tell you that you have to figure out a way to compete, or would rather suddenly discover you`re out of business? How important is it for you that "the world" should be considerate, realistic, compassionate, and caring? Would you prefer to look at your product and business from a survival perspective, or just let things happen?
Napoleon Hill, in "Think and Grow Rich," makes the point that desperation brings forth an amazing capacity in people to find creative solutions to problems. But is that desperation a good thing? Is it something we should seek out and cause to take place in life? Isn`t being an entrepreneur scary enough? What if you did want to push yourself to the limits, how would you accomplish it?
There isn`t much that causes more apprehension and terror than to walk out of a cushy job to start a business. Many of us would say that`s the ultimate in fear. But until we`ve come face to face with losing everything---being out on the streets, alone and bankrupt---there`s an awful long way to fall. It`s like the optimist and the pessimist talking together.
The pessimist says, "Well, things can`t get any worse." The optimist says, "Oh, sure they can!" So the question is whether or not it`s useful to examine your business from the perspective of do or die. Would you say that desperation is a beneficial survival tool? Or would say that you should act only after you`ve considered all the options?