By Jim Whitt
Watching, reading or listening to the news lately reminds me of the wild-eyed, pseudo-prophets who stand on street corners with signs that read, “THE END IS NEAR!” The first line in an article I just read is a case in point, “Barack Obama has only four years to save the world.” How’s that for pressure on our newly inaugurated President? The article was about global warming. A Flint (Michigan) Journal columnist is suggesting we should be praying for global warming. Having recently returned from speaking in very frigid Michigan, I’m with him. Aside from the climate there is a growing chorus of pseudo-prophets preaching doom about the state of the world in general.
I’m starting to think the greatest threat to our economy may be the panic created by those who are pushing trillion dollar bailouts and economic stimulus packages with pseudo-prophet fervency, “The end is near! We must do this to save the world!” If the economy is so bad then why is the parking lot at the Creek Nation Casino full every time I drive by? It’s like that any hour of day or night. If people have so much money they are dumping it into slot machines and pushing the flush button they don’t need a bailout and they sure don’t need any more economic stimulation! I’ll believe the end is near (and Elvis is alive) when I see an Out of Business sign on that casino.
Before we start believing those who continually tell us that the world is about to spin off its climatic and economic axis and we’ll be hurled into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, we need a lesson in farming. I think one of the great advantages people who are involved in production agriculture have over their city cousins is they are fulltime students of the environment (nature and business). Their classroom teaches them that most things in this world are cyclical. There are periods of cooler or warmer than average seasons, periods of higher or lower than average rainfall and periods when the markets are higher or lower than average. If not for that knowledge of cyclical patterns, it would be difficult for them to persevere when the current weather or business climate appears less than advantageous or even adversarial. As Will Rogers observed, “The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” The lesson we can all learn from the farmer is that he continues to plant and cultivate with the focus being on the things he can control rather than on the things he can’t. Regardless of the outcome of his most recent harvest he invests in the next crop with the objective of maximizing his return on investment. If he succumbed to the end is near mentality he would stop planting and cultivating which is a guarantee of no harvest.
Call me an optimist but I believe this is a time of great opportunity. In fact, our business is doing great. It is great because we have clients who are smart enough to continue planting and cultivating (investing in organizational development). Seeds of opportunity lie dormant in the soil of economic downturns. We are helping organizations maximize their return on investment by restructuring their organizations and developing their human resources to cultivate and harvest these opportunities.
Most things are cyclical. As we say in Oklahoma, if you don’t like the weather wait awhile, it’ll change. We all know that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes and, with another tip of the hat to Will Rogers, “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” If you’re expecting Congress, the President or any other human being to save the world you probably believe Elvis really is alive. Don’t focus on the things you can’t control, focus on those you can. Take it from the farmer, if you want a harvest, keep planting and cultivating.