Music speaks to me. Some days it soothes my soul and other days it gets me moving. Nerd Alert….in high school I lettered in choir while my friends lettered in sports. In fact, I was in 3 different choirs. That being said, it will come as no surprise that I love musicals and concerts.
One of my favorite musicals is Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, oh yes, an oldie but a goodie in the entertainment category. I didn’t fully appreciate it from a work or career aspect until recently. In Unsinkable: A Memoir, the late Debbie Reynolds speaks to how the “Rain” was instrumental in helping her reach her potential. See, Debbie did not have any dance experience prior to Singin’ in the Rain. This experience came as quite a challenge, however, she remarked in her book…
“My father had raised me to never start a job unless I planned on finishing it, and I was determined to do my damnedest. The word ‘quit’ was not in my vocabulary.” “When I look at Singin’ in the Rain now, I realize something that I didn’t understand at the time but must have known somehow. Mr. Mayer said I could do it. Gene Kelly said I had to do it. I didn’t know that I couldn’t do it. So I did it. And I was terrific.”
Finding the joy in the rain is not always easy. More often than not, you have to plan for a rainy day.
GRAB YOUR UMBRELLA AND TAKE A WALK WITH ME
I love it… not just for the relaxation and entertainment value, but for the friends and acquaintances I’ve made as well as the opportunity to get a candid glimpse at how our community is thriving. It’s a barometer that has no statistics, charts, or guerilla marketing sales pitches. The inherent value for me is an enjoyable status check presented in a work-life balanced way…and it’s a good excuse to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine with friends…just sayin’.
Last week’s concert, Cadillac Groove, was interrupted by passing storms. It was the last in this summer’s series and one I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Only the heartiest of us (or craziest, as the case may be) showed up and were willing to sit it out under umbrellas. It struck me (no pun intended) that it is much the same way in business. Only the hearty are willing to risk showing up and working through some short-term discomfort to enjoy the long-term rewards and benefits.
During those brief rainy pauses in the entertainment, we huddled together, sheltered those less prepared, and found joy in the moments of camaraderie. Chatter and laughter filled the air for some, as others complained, packed up and trudged out disgruntled; soaked in disbelief.
It is in those less than comfortable moments (and they are many over the course of life) that we find out what we are made of and who is willing to huddle with us.
As entrepreneurs, we are no strangers to taking risks and making decisions that create situations (both positive and negative) for ourselves. If we are truly business savvy, the situations we create are devoted to “the next big thing”. With the swell of activity that surrounds us at any given time, it is often impossible to conceive that there will be rainy days; moments when even the crickets aren’t humming; moments when we stare out the window willing the sun to shine.
Moments, and I promise you they are just moments, when you have released a product or service that isn’t gaining any traction, the economy is sluggish, or you’re going through a personal crisis…you name it, the storms come in all forms…there is this need to react.
Human nature dictates that you create a situation. Do you run out into the rain shaking your umbrella in your clenched fist to challenge the thunder? Board up the windows and call it a day? Or, put on your rain gear and step out to appreciate the momentary pause and fresh perspective the cleansing rain brings?
If Benjamin Franklin were here he would probably tell you, unless you’re conducting a life-changing experiment, shaking your umbrella like a lightning rod at an angry sky is not the most productive way to spend your time.
If you’re prepared to take the jolt, and all that comes with it, then by all means, we won’t stop you from exercising your right to experience the hair-raising exhilaration of needlessly being knocked on your butt.
Funny as it sounds, this approach actually works for some of us. These acts of defiance start in childhood and sound something like, “Hey! Don’t touch the …..” One emergency room visit later we feel like the learning experience, although painful, was a net gain.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it becomes necessary to cut your losses and call it a day. Lightning, for instance, would have been a far riskier dynamic at the concert than the gentle rain we endured.
How do you know when the storm is worth enduring and the risk is worth taking? Honestly, “no” thing is a “sure” thing. Worse yet, emotion and a phenomenon called entrepreneurial terror can take over. Being prepared can help.
I have experienced many rainy days in my 11 years as a business owner. Business maturity has certainly come with its fair share of “character building opportunities” and there will no doubt be more.
In these moments that tested my fortitude, and sometimes my sanity, I discovered that I am exceptionally resilient and have a low tolerance for unnecessary suffering. I learned long ago that the rain is necessary for beautiful things to bloom and singin’ and dancing my way through it, although not always easy, has been a productive part of my strategy.
PLANNING FOR A RAINY DAY
So, let the rain come. You ARE unsinkable!
Find the good in each day. This is easy to do when things are going according to plan. It can take effort when things feel off-track. You might have to dig down a bit if you’re struggling, but you can always find something positive to keep you motivated.
Keep moving forward. It’s okay and very healthy to take a breather, but make it meaningful.
Have a Plan
Forecasting rain comes with time and experience, however, it is never a perfect science. Planning activities to engage in during the storm can begin immediately.
Entrepreneurs know there is always something that needs attention. Turn on your favorite tunes and let the music move you to create a situation that continues to propel you forward in a positive way. If you plan well you won’t be bothered by the rain. In fact, you may come to welcome the opportunities that blossom as a result of it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Assess your goals or strategy and redefine if necessary
- Address something that has been idle for a while
- Sketch out some plans for the future
- Learn something new
- Start something new
- Spend time with family members and friends
- Do something for yourself
- Take a vacation or a staycation
- Clean out a closet
- Paint a room
Take These Key Success Factors Into Consideration:
- Be in tune with yourself
- Assess your personality, leverage your core strengths and allow others to help bring balance to the rest.
- Take mental health breaks.
- Maintain strong bonds with, and appreciation for, those who huddle with you.
- Be in tune with your market – Who are they and what do they want?
- Be in tune with your budget – Establish financing, break-even points, and ROI
- Plan a strategy that includes a fall-back position – What is Plan B?
- Be willing to adapt when needed.
- Understand that value is not always monetary.
- Value can arrive in the form of knowledge, expertise, opportunity, and experience.
- Acknowledge and celebrate all accomplishments.