Edition 58 – Grit

Have you ever stopped to wonder what sort of perspective you can draw on where you are in life right now from the lives of those who have formed part of your own family?

The news media is full of stories about terrorism, rising house prices, government debt or how bad the new US President is.

To that end, people start to believe the bad news to the point they talk more often than not about their own bad news. Business isn’t good. Staff are causing me headaches. Customers aren’t paying. Suppliers aren’t delivering. Every day is a challenge.

I know and understand that each of those are real world problems. Some of them are more challenging at some times than others. But, all of them are problems that are able to be solved and, to a great extent, are in the control of the owners and managers of family businesses. Often, it is about the mindset the owner or manager has when they are dealing with the problem, and the speed they choose to deal with it.

Today would have been my father in law, Wal’s 96th birthday. When he emigrated to Australia in 1993 with his wife, Peggy, he was unpacking his bags on the Saturday morning of his arrival into Sydney. We were talking away and he showed me something that was too prized a possession for him to pack inside a tea chest and ship across the oceans.

Wal showed me the RAF Logbooks he had kept throughout World War 2. The only child of a Shopkeeper and his wife, he was sent off to fight the war in Europe at the age of 18. Imagine the despair his mother must have felt at seeing her only child fight in a battle like the one her own brother had fought in 20 years beforehand. Except her brother lost his life three weeks before the end of World War 1. Wal’s middle name was Albert, after the uncle he never met and the brother his mother never forgot.

If you remember the mid 80’s movie Memphis Belle, that was Wal’s life for 6 years between 1939 and 1945. He trained to become a wireless operator in the Air Command flying out of England. He also trained to be a Rear Gunner in the Lancaster Bombers flying over Europe. He was what was called the Tail End Charlie – the guy at the back of the aircraft who was shot at by the German Luftwaffe. Tail End Charlies had a very high mortality rate. They sat in a bubble at the rear of the aircraft, completely exposed to gunfire and the weather elements that continental Europe threw up over every season for six years.

Every day he sat down and ate breakfast with a bunch of mates who knew they had a job to do – and may never ever return safely home for dinner that evening. He was stationed in Scotland, southern England and various points in between. Every day, he and hundreds of thousands of others put their lives on the line to defend the dominion, repel the advance of Nazi Germany and fight fascism.

I’m telling you this story for a reason. Our lives in business today may be more complicated than ever before. They may be busier than they have ever been. However, none of us is heading out each day into business living in the fear that, at the end of the day, we may not have a business, let alone our lives.

The challenges in your business life, each day, are not insurmountable. Often they are predictable. We just need some perspective every now and then to help us reflect on how good we have it, how lucky we are, and what choices we have.


This Week’s Tip

Going into business every day should not be like going into battle. If it is, you are in the wrong business.

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