Jim Collins, the renowned business author of Good to Great and Built to Last talked with Fortune magazine last month about the current economic crisis. He claimed that 1952-2000 was an aberation of stability that brought unprecedented economic prosperity. He said that’s rare in human history and doesn’t think it’s likely that we’ll see it again in our lifetime.
He concludes: “What we’re experiencing now, get used to it! It’s life, and it’s the normal life.”
That kind of economic pessimism seems commonplace. It reminds me of something I posted on Twitter last week, a quote that “Americans’ standard of living is undergoing a ‘permanent change’.”
I don’t know if any of that is true. Nobody can predict the economic future with absolute certainty. Though I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing if we have to realign our standard of living and get used to getting by on less (another tweet about the average American consuming as much as 520 Ethiopians comes to mind).
Of course Collins goes on to talk about how great companies can survive these times, so it’s not all gloom and doom. And he points to making this a defining moment, not just a state of panic: “You have to ask the question, What can we do not just to survive but to turn this into a defining point in history?” Sometimes a bad situation can be a blessing because it forces you to do what you really needed to do.