Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final…Failure is not permanent.” This quote came at a time in history when many thought that Germany was going to rule Europe, and this small little island country had its back up against the wall. With the majority of its army cornered in a small coastal town in France called Dunkirk, Great Britain faced almost certain defeat. The British Navy was reluctant to send ships in to rescue the stranded soldiers, fearing that the loss of naval ships to German U-Boats would weaken the Navy and almost ensure a German invasion. Winston Churchill was faced with tremendous adversity in this situation, but he did not let that stop him. He ordered 861 civilian vessels to rescue over 330,000 soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk. Over a 9 day period, these small civilian boats ferried across the English Channel to Dunkirk day and night until almost all of the soldiers were off the beaches and back in Dover. This was a tremendous success in the face of adversity, and it showed what we are capable of when we are faced with these struggles.
Now, our day to day business lives aren’t quite as dramatic or dire as the situation Great Britain faced in World War II, but the principals are the same. Most of the major advancements in human society have come in the face of adversity. People throughout history have been faced with problems and situations that appear to have no obvious solution, and then have figured out new ways to overcome. Necessity is the mother of invention.
So how do you succeed thru adversity in business?
First, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If every business situation was a breeze, then none of us would have jobs. Succeeding thru adversity starts when you accept the “Adversity”. The challenge in front of you is uncomfortable by design. Your customer has a set of objectives and you have a set of objectives. Very rarely will these line up. Being uncomfortable helps us stretch the limits of ideation. This is where the best ideas and solutions are found.
Second, create value. Look at the situation in front of you and lay out your options. The best options are usually the ones where both parties gain something of value, but still have to concede something. Look at your options and weigh the benefits and risks of each. There will always be fear of conceding something that you or your company has always had, or risking the existing business you already have over new initiatives that enter into the situation. But if you can show value to both sides of the adversity, you may find that the new options are not only accepted, but desired.
Third, you won’t get everything you want. If you did, then something is wrong. Each side of a business situation, negotiation, etc., should have objectives and objections. You will have to concede some objectives, and let go of objections in some form in order to get thru an adverse business situation. Prepare yourself for this by setting stretch goals. Ask for more than you really need. Offer less than you are actually willing to give. By doing this, the negotiating range is bigger and the opportunity exists for you to get more of what you want. This will not ensure you get “ALL” of what you want, but “MORE” of what you need.
Every day, there are situations of adversity in all of our lives. Utilizing the tips above can help you make the most of those situations.
*Team Leader, Walmart & Sam’s Club – Tootsie Roll
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.