Recovery demands courageWritten by Stephen Sherline | | email@example.com
If you examine the words cascading over us today — crisis, catastrophe, fear, panic, recession, depression, losses, fraud, malfeasance — it is no surprise our confidence as a country has been shaken.
In a recent edition of USA Today, I counted 282 uses of one of those words in the stories that day. Well, big surprise that consumer confidence is at all-time lows and the uncertainty about what will happen over the next year weighs on nearly all Americans in a way that we have not felt as a nation since the 1970s (See how easy it is to be negative!). Many believe that this deluge of media cynicism around our nation’s economy has actually deepened the speed and severity of the decline.
Think about 2008. After an extended period of prosperity, we have hit some very rough water. This created an immediate slowdown in consumer buying behavior. That led to a breakdown in confidence, which ratchets down consumption further, which escalates fear; well, you get the point. What we need now is to stop perpetuating the cycle of negativity, take account of the realities of our situation and then react with the resolve and courage of the great nation we are.
Since when are Americans afraid of a challenge?
Borrowing from another adviser I know, my new response to negative aspersions is “Yes. I have heard there is a recession going on; I am choosing not to participate.” I, for one believe that it is time to stop the madness, take a stand and push back on those who want to sell us on apocalypse theories.
Yes, I realize that these problems are real, but this decline is ultimately about a loss of confidence in our economic system. I greet that opinion with open defiance. Our system has fostered the single greatest economic force ever seen in the world. At nearly $14 trillion in output, the U.S. economy is not just the largest in the world; it is larger than the next four countries combined. Most countries rely on our stability more than they know. Even some who thought that they might benefit from a U.S. downturn, like China and France, have quickly seemed to recognize how dependent they are on the health of the U.S. economy.
I wonder if we collectively decided to simply refuse to be baited into doomsday thinking, if that might be in itself the stimulus we need to accelerate a recovery. Speaking as a jury of one, I will not convict my country for its mistakes. I believe that this environment provides us a great opportunity to re-connect with the entrepreneurial spirit that is at the foundation of our system. We can and should flourish once more — but it will require courage.
Of course, if you have recently lost your job or your home, acting with courage is decidedly more difficult — and more important. Interestingly, many of the most successful people I have ever met have struggled mightily at some point in their lives, having dealt with illnesses, bankruptcy and the loss of employment. Most of them point to that period of struggle as an asset to them. Some describe it as the very source of their current success.
The root of the word “courage” comes from the French word, coeur, or heart. So when you act with courage, you’re acting from the heart, or put another way, you trust your inner instincts. Mark Twain famously wrote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act in spite of it.”
What matters most is to personally believe in our system and in our country. Regardless of your position in society, courage is always an individual action. It always starts with you.
So when you’re feeling uneasy, anxious or frightened about what your next move should be, remember this handy formula: When C > F=S. Defined, this means, when courage is greater than fear that equals success. Keep in mind however, success is this context is a verb — it requires you to take action and when you do, I believe great things will happen for you.
Put a different way, an individual can approach today’s circumstances by being bitter — or by being better. I’m in the camp of better.
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