The Gift of 2009

The Chinese have a saying. May you live in interesting times.

Actually, it’s a curse.

As we put 2009 in the rear view mirror, I for one have a greater appreciation of Chinese irony.

The dawn of 2010 comes at the end of not just one of the most disruptive years in our lifetimes. But two.

A fact that is easy to overlook. But important to remember.

It’s been a long time since we have had a sense of stability. A year-long, polarizing Presidential campaign followed by a cataclysmic failure of the economy - the full consequences of which we have yet to see - have made for adrenaline filled days and sleepless nights. And the realization that a lot more was at stake than we had intended.

Evidence that as a species we do evolution better than revolution.

A lesson we rarely heed. By ignoring the future until it's pounding at the door. At which point we're reacting to someone else's change instead of planning our own.

Change is a constant. And no matter how hard you hang on to the known, the future is coming. A fact that a new January the 1st demonstrates numerically as well as theoretically. A sharp piece of punctuation with which to begin again.

Except that we aren’t beginning again. Unless we approach things differently. Which means:

  1. Learn from the past.

  2. Challenge the status quo.

  3. Invent the future.

Three attributes rarely practiced by business owners through the end of the first decade of the twenty first century.

The good news is that decade ended yesterday.

I’m writing a book called Plan The Last Day First. It’s a concept that I have developed through experience. Mine and others. And one whose validity and authenticity I have challenged even as I espouse its core beliefs and develop its thesis. I believe in it more today than ever.

It’s a concept that says that any life, business or individual, comes closer to fulfilling its potential when you embrace the essence of being a human being.

To leave a legacy.

We want to have made a difference.

And the sooner we talk about how, the sooner we can take steps to make sure our life gives us a chance to do so.

It is not always about money or power or influence or material gain.

But it is always about whether, on our last day of owning a business or living a life, we can look back and say we did the best we could.

2009 was a tough year. Let us hope that it is the hardest we ever know.

But 2009 has given us a gift.


May we use it in such a way that it makes 2009 worthwhile.

Happy New Year.