Making Lemonade

My son spent the whole summer training for his senior year of high school soccer. He was fit, ready and in the prime of his life by try-outs. Minutes before the first pre-season game, the coach named him co-captain of the team. All his dreams had come true. Unfortunately, less than fifteen minutes into the first game, he tore his ACL. He’s out for the season, having surgery and expecting a six-month recovery.

It’s not just my son who’s experiencing his share of disappointment this year. For many, two-thousand-ten has been another year of disappointments. If the recession ended in 2009, it neglected to notify most American businesses. Clients are still hesitant to spend money. A continuously evolving media environment is causing publications to close left and right. And, last I checked, people are still losing their jobs.

Not exactly “rainbows and butterflies.”

On the other hand, it’s when adversity strikes that we find out who we really are. For some, streamlining actually strengthened their organizations. The need to cut costs exposed staffing weaknesses. For others, current underutilized resources were used to improve future efficiencies. In our office, for instance, we used downtime to re-examine our processes, organize our photo libraries and increase office efficiency.

Some businesses’ losses were others’ gains. Home phone services are declining, but cellular phone sales are at an all time high. Ad media sales are down but interactive advertising sales are breaking records. Housing sales are in a slump, but low interest rates have created a refinancing boom.

Lemons, meet lemonade.

My son, who “lived” to play soccer, was initially devastated by his injury. After a couple of days, however, his attitude shifted from a sports focus to a focus on the future. He’s been studying his school work in the evenings. He interviewed and was hired to work at his high school’s campus financial institution. And I actually caught him studying for the S.A.T. – something he’s never done.

Turns out the right attitude can turn an athlete into a student, a loss into an opportunity and a failure into a success. So while 2010 may not be the best year for business, it’s certainly not the worst. So maybe those of us who are lucky enough to remain in business should take a cue from my 17-year-old son. Let’s quit feeling sorry for ourselves and make the most of it.