Let’s pass along the ‘great lesson’

Many of you who read my blogs know I’m a “glass half full” person. I’m convinced this perspective on life can be attributed to my father.

I remember while growing up how I looked forward to his entrance in the back door every evening … setting down his metal lunchbox and then methodically untying his work boots.

Regardless of what occurred during his day, he always had something funny or cheerful to say to my brother and me.

One day in particular stands out. He came home, sat his lunchbox on the stairs and then pronounced , “I’ve been laid off today, along with several thousand others. I’m not sure when or if they will call us back. Don’t worry guys, we’ll adapt and we’ll survive, and things may just turn out for the best.”

During the time that followed, I remember him having “two” jobs – one in a sweaty steel fabrication shop and the other, a “side job,” cleaning out basements of newly constructed homes.

And guess what? Eventually things did turn out for the best. He got called back to the company. With a lot of hard work, self-education and a “can do” attitude, he rose into management, semi-retiring in his late fifties.
Which brings me to the point of this blog.

I’m convinced that man better than any other creature on this planet is a master at adaptation and survival. My Dad aside … examples abound, especially in these economic times. Adaptation/reinvention is, I would suggest, another characteristic of the new normal in today’s ever-changing, chaotic world.

For some, adapting to change comes easily. We have seen industries, companies and individuals able to reinvent themselves and thrive. Don’t get me wrong, there are also plenty of examples of those who have had difficulty changing and adapting. We see them in the headlines every day, ala Blockbuster. We see them in our political leaders and even in our children.

I don’t know about your firm or your  specific situation, but speaking with a lot of folks from all walks of life these past 18 months, I’d suggest many of you have adapted very well. Is it pain-free? Certainly not. But you have done and are continuing to do it.  I would further suggest most will even thrive when “the worm turns”
From my perspective, the great lesson learned over this difficult economic time is really one of preparation and adaptability. Our ability to adapt is rooted in having the courage and the vision to prepare for the unexpected. (Admittedly easily said and not necessarily easily done.)

We need to teach that great lesson to the next generation … just like my Dad taught it to me.
Times are not always good. Times are not always bad.

Be prepared. Have a “plan B” and recognize that with a positive “can do: attitude, you can adapt, survive and even thrive!

Note: As I write this blog, my Dad is battling cancer back in British Columbia. He called the other day (announced himself as the Chemo Kid) and was raving about his “treatment team” and how much he appreciated their efforts.

Not hard to see why the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree!


Gary Billington is vice president of client relations at Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP in Milwaukee.

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