The pessimist complains about the wind;the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails. William Arthur Ward
The start of a new year is a great time to take a moment to think through our goals and aspirations for the months ahead. As I was doing that myself for the MCEDC, I came across this quote from the ‘King of Inspiration’, William Arthur Ward and I was struck by how true this really is and how our attitudes and perceptions can form our outlook and impact how we lead our businesses.
Our attitude ultimately becomes the lens through which we view our world. If we focus on the positive, then the world becomes tinted by the proverbial rose colored glasses. If we choose to focus on the negative, then we will see the negative in everyone and everything around us. These images of the optimist and pessimist are nothing new and have been around a long time. They are the traditional black and white of attitudes. But if there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that life is a whole lot of gray.
Enter the realist. One of our recent Business Champions was faced with the realty that he needed to broaden his outreach and find new markets for his products. This company adjusted their sails and forged ahead creating their own new reality. (http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/connect/business-champions). Another McHenry County company had the need to expand...the realty of an expansion meant it would impact not only the company and its employees, but the community as well. These companies were realists and unlike the pessimist, these realists didn’t look at the inevitable ups and downs of life as a bad thing. They understood it for what it is; a fact of life and an opportunity. They didn’t become immobilized by fear, slash budgets and wait for the sky to fall. They also didn’t dismiss the signs of change in their industry or the economy with an optimistic “everything is fine” attitude either. Instead they did their research, analyzed their situations and decided on the best path for moving forward. And then they moved, full sail ahead. (http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/connect/local-business-spotlight/fabrik-industries-expansion)
We are fortunate here that we have many such business leaders from both large and small companies that call McHenry County home. They took action...expanding their footprint, innovating, provided up training for employees and developed new products...which is what sets the realist apart from others. Realists don’t wait for things to get better, they make them better. Realists are Doers. They understand that it is up to them to find the path for their own success and help their people get there. They help inspire the pessimist and lead the optimist to action. They set goals that are actionable, measurable and attainable. They look for ways to improve themselves and their business.
One great example, is the MCEDC CEO Peer Group which has just celebrated its first year. Members are from varied business sectors all willing to dive in and take action. This intensive leadership program is dedicated to helping CEO’s grow their skills, broaden their horizon, help solve opportunities for growth and improve their bottom line. (For more information on the next group being formed now, go to http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/about-us/ceo-peer-group).
Realists also know that they can’t do it alone because, in the end, it isn’t just about them. It is about their business, their team and their employees. It is about looking beyond what is good for the month or the quarter and have the vision to see what will be good for the next 2 years, 5 years and down the road and about biting a bullet for long term growth. At MCEDC we want to be on your team. We can help to set a direction from which to sail, to line up partners who can address a need, and provide resources as well as the support needed to reach a goal.
As we begin 2017, I challenge you to reflect a moment on the words of William Arthur Ward. What kind of attitude do you have? Do you see your industry as shrinking or do you actively look for new markets and new technologies that will help you move forward in ways you hadn’t thought about before? Do you keep doing things the same way you always have and hope that everything will get better, or do you look for ways to improve yourself, your businesses and your community? Do you stare at the glass and wonder if it is half empty or half full – or do you go and look for more water? How is your ship sailing?
Pam Cumpata, President
McHenry County Economic Development Corporation