Hysterical or Historical
Michael J. Gelb
Think Like Leonardo, Innovate Like Edison!
“Consumer confidence crumbles.” ”Economy in shambles.” Perhaps you’ve come across these kinds of hysterical news blurbs recently. Many media outlets seem to be vying with one another to generate ever more negative emotive language to describe the current situation. We’ve experienced a huge decline and unprecedented volatility in the markets and it seems as though a new financial scandal hits the front pages every day. Many of my client companies are letting people go. There’s no question that we face an extremely challenging set of economic circumstances. We are in the midst of a deep recession and many fear it will become a depression. What’s the difference? Well, on a personal level this definition is apt: A recession is when your neighbor loses his job and a depression is when you lose yours. Whatever one’s personal fortune, however, we are all influenced by the current circumstances. And, television and radio tend to fan the flames of anxiety and fear, almost as though they are intentionally trying to erode confidence and promote hysteria.
Instead of being hysterical, its better to be historical. Although we can’t know exactly when things will turn around the evidence of history strongly suggests that they will. And, this crisis can also be a time of opportunity for those who think creatively.
As Thomas Edison advised 89 years ago: "Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!"