An Ill Wind that Blows No One Any Good

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You are feeling the effects of the economic slowdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. You are worried about your personal life, your family life, and your professional life. There is so much uncertainty; life today can be downright scary. What are you supposed to do?

Number one, keep your wits about you. Now, more than ever, you need to be clear-headed in your decision making. You are facing tough life choices, and you must decide carefully. Physical exercise is an excellent way to get more oxygen to your brain and improve your decision-making skills.  

Number two, prioritize. Making a list is a proactive step to solving your issues. Devote adequate time to making a list of all of your priorities. Get everything down on paper in any order that it comes to mind. You can go back and redo the list in order of priority later. For now, write down all of your competing priorities.  As you prioritize your list, the process of focusing will help you decide which issues to deal with today and which you can delay for another day.  

Number three, look for opportunity in diversity. Looking for the opportunity will be difficult because your important responsibilities require the majority of your cognitive thinking. Still, you must try and find a way to keep your eyes open for your chance.

The phrase, “An ill wind that blows no one any good” is used to express the thought that a loss or a misfortune usually benefits someone.

Professor Amar Bhidé at Columbia Business School says, “The deck gets reshuffled in a recession as habits are re-examined, and patterns of behavior are broken, perhaps to greater degree than when things are humming along at a steady state. And that’s what creates business opportunities.”

Professor Scott Reynolds Nelson a the College of William and Mary, says, “America’s financial panics have often been the periods of its most interesting commercial and logistical innovations. Plummeting commodity prices combined with new observations about manufacturing or trade often suggest new solutions to old problems.”

Rita Gunther McGrath, Professor of Management at Columbia Business School, reminds us, “With business as usual off the table in a recession, people become more open to new and efficient ways of doing things. And they’re forced to show more entrepreneurial discipline — you have to expend imagination before spending money.”

In 1815, Britain and her allies had just defeated Napoleon. As the British Navy demobilized, British wool manufacturers had thousands of pre-cut wool jackets in their warehouses. To save themselves from bankruptcy in the British Depression of 1815-1816, they started the biggest Navy surplus sale in the history of the world.

The manufactures sold thousands of these pre-manufactured wool coats at auction in New York City. A small firm called Brooks Brothers bought them up, added civilian buttons, and sold them on Cherry Street at closeout prices.  

The wholesalers in New York were outraged. They argued that these manufacturers, auctioneers, and cheap vendors offered goods below cost. The wholesalers argued for prosecuting the auction houses.

Rather than jailing the wholesalers, New York City decided to take a different path. The city imposed flexible regulations on New York’s auction houses accompanied by a new tax. By 1818, New York’s 43 licensed auctioneers sold $16 million worth of goods. The $305,000 in regulatory fees financed a state-supported canal to Lake Erie. The Erie Canal made New York’s fortune after opening in 1825.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,”is an English-language proverb. It means that the primary force for most new ideas is a need. The Oxford Dictionary defines the saying as, “When the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.”

Many of you reading this may not know who Dale Carnegie was.  He was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.

One of Dale Carnegie’s principles for overcoming worry is to live in “day-tight compartments.”  This term was first coined by Sir William Osler when he encountered this life-changing quote from Thomas Carlisle, “It is not our goal to see what lies dimly in the distance but to do what clearly lies at hand.”

What are you doing to cope with COVID-19? Please take a moment to share your thoughts. If you enjoyed this post, please use the social media buttons below to share it with your friends.

If I can help, please let me know.

Spike SanteeAn Ill Wind that Blows No One Any Good

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