I recently purchased a new car – well, it’s used, but it’s new to me. It was a tough decision. “Never fall in love with a car,” my father cautioned when I used my own money to buy my first car at the age of 17. Decades later, I remember his advice.
My choices needed to be examined through business eyes. The car I had been driving was the best automobile I have ever owned. It was a cute sports car, a convertible, with an AWESOME stereo, sported my team’s colors and corresponding decals. Best of all, it was paid for.
But the car of my dreams was getting up there in mileage and age. I drive – A LOT. My car required premium gas and really expensive tires that needed replacing too often. Repairs and parts were becoming more costly. It lacked some bells and whistles: a navigation system (I get lost A LOT); blue tooth. The deal maker/breaker: it was a two-door and could not accommodate an infant car seat.
So, I faced head-on the reality that I could no longer cling to my windblown, carefree, song-filled excursions using printed directions to navigate. I’m now a grandmother. My needs and those of my family dictated something more sensible with FOUR doors, a navigation system and the ability to frolic more affordably.
My mode of operandi is one of thinking things through – (weeks to months) – but when the decision is made – WHAM! That’s it! I fly forward and rarely look back. Within 24-hours I selected an economical, more suitable car while also giving a nod to my sporty side. Driving home on my newer set of wheels it occurred to me that this decision is really no different from many we make through our lifetimes – decisions that reflect change, growth and transition…..OR NOT.
Businesses, companies, corporations, conglomerates face similar decisions every several years. It’s part of strategic planning. You cannot stay where you are, remain exactly as you are and survive. Everything grows older. Change, whether through regulations, fashion, custom, the economy, mission or purpose must be faced and addressed. The difference is that businesses navigate in a much larger arena carrying precious cargo: human resources, profit, customers, product, stockholders, reputation and people’s livelihoods.
My old car was comfortable. We knew each other. We had great history and chemistry. But those were not reasons to prevent me from moving forward. I thought of grown men who still own their first cars rusting in unofficial backyard auto cemeteries. Holding onto the past, I could not logically, safely or economically travel into my future without risks to me and those I love most. Out with the old. In with the new. I embraced the need to change, adjusted to white, sunroof-blown hair, learned to use a navigation system and motored through.
Sadly, there are too many employees and employers who insist upon keeping their heads in the sand and their hearts in the past. The “It’s not broken, so don’t fix it” mentality. “The industrial landscape is already littered with remains of once successful companies that could not adapt their strategic vision to altered conditions of competition,” (Abernathy).
Eastman Kodak, Eastern Airlines, K-Mart, Polaroid, Sears, Chrysler and The Washington Post come to mind. I was spit out of a declining industry five years ago. See What’s Happened to Newspapers? Ironically, it was my former boss and newspaper publisher who taught me to welcome and embrace change. Change is pregnant with possibility and promise. Sit, soak and I promise, you’ll sour.
I continue to live by Ruth Graham’s wise advice: “Make the most of what comes and the least of what goes.”
Years from now when it’s time to upgrade my mode of transportation, I doubt it will be with the same struggle and sentiment as this car purchase was. It may involve giving up the car keys permanently. As I look to the future, I hope I fall in love and embrace change instead of clinging to the status quo.
What happened to my beloved convertible? An endearing couple in their 70’s purchased it!
~ From the desk of Becky Morlok ~
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