Monday, August 17, 2009

Missing the Forest for the Fire

I bet you're thinking I meant to title this entry "Missing the Forest for the Trees." However, I'm referring to a forest fire. One in particular.

Last year I took a week-long camping trip with family and friends to Mammoth Lakes, specifically to Lake George. We went on many hikes when we were there. One of them took us a full day and past an area that reminded me of the devastation that destroyed a part of Mammoth forest.

We went through an area of Mammoth Mountain that was burned as a result of a lightening-induced forest fire in the 1980's. The ground was still mostly barren. It was frightening and awe-inspiring at once. The destructive power of the lightening was evident as you saw mostly barren land for acres, but what inspired me were the new trees that had taken hold and were growing again. There were plenty of them. They stood at about three to six feet, in sharp contrast to the older trees that rose to 30 or more feet above and around the effected area.

In fact, the new trees were more spread out, accentuating the contrast. I realized how this was beneficial. Should another lightening strike, the forest wouldn't catch on fire as easily nor spread as quickly.

The reason for including this blurb here, a year after I witnessed it, is that our current economic conditions remind me of that renewing and rebirth in the forest. We've certainly witnessed a forest fire as devastating to our economy and lives as that in Mammoth was to the trees. In fact, in both instances much survived the devastation. Just as in the forest, there are many signs of a rebirth in our economy, as pointed out in the Newsweek cover story "The Case for Optimism" published last week. These include the rise in prices for metals other than gold (gold prices rise in recession, while others drop), the drop in Libor rate (signaling that banks are lending to each other again), or the rise in cost of moving freight (signaling the resurgence of international trade), among others.

These are all good bits of news about what many of us are already witnessing in the front-lines of the economy, at our places of business.

The insinuation in all of this is that recessions are not only necessary, but a good thing. I'm of the firm belief that economies enter recessionary periods since there's too much "deadwood" or inefficiencies. We'd become lazy and opportunistic in our methods before this latest recession. So much so that we thought we no longer needed to rely on basic economic principles of savings and rational investment. So be it.

But our latest recessionary burn only means that we'll have new fertile ground to build new businesses with new ways of generating revenue and jobs. I've written in the past about what these conditions mean for executives and how our way of doing business will resemble grassroots efforts focused on local economies. Now we have good news from the professional writers and researchers at Newsweek to confirm what we already suspected.

So, enjoy the vast new opportunities the economic "forest fire" has provided us. Think of all the possibilities now before us, then pick yourself up and do something about it!

P.S. Don't forget to set a goal, including tangible results attainable in a short and pre-defined timeline...and make it big. Remember, you want to set a BHAG!!!