This too shall pass. Eventually. What matters is what happens in the meantime.
Worst case, “meantime” can be a long time. At least long enough that your reputation will be in tatters when it ends.
People with problems fall essentially into three categories:
- Those who recognize something serious will ultimately happen and get prepared well in advance. They realize it’s a small investment with a high ROI. (They’re also the anomaly.)
- Those who wait until the wave has come crashing over them before they seek help. (They’re the most common.)
- Those who believe nothing bad will ever happen, see no reason to be prepared, and even after it does believe it’ll end quickly and they’ll be unscathed. (They’re in constant denial and wonder why they become professional victims.)
The first group has lots of options. The best are (1) knowing what you need to know before anything happens because it always does, and (2) nipping existing issues in the bud while they’re simmering, rather than waiting until they boil over into big legal, financial or PR problems.
The second group has limited options. Because they hesitated, they’re on the defensive, and that’s never desirable. Is it possible to turn the tables and gain the upper hand? Yes, but it’s an uphill battle, and victory is never assured.
The third group is helpless and hopeless. It’s like leading a horse to water. You may be able to get it there (or, in this case, to explain what needs to done). But you can’t make the horse drink or the organization do what it must to protect itself.
The lesson: Don’t fritter your “meantime.” If you do, two bad things will happen. You’ll forgo an opportunity. You’ll dig yourself deeper into a hole.
* In ancient lore, a king asked his wise men to make him happy when he was sad. So they created a ring etched with “this too shall pass” to reassure him the bad wouldn’t last. But it also became a curse: The good wouldn’t last either.
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