Much is being said in the news lately about the “fiscal cliff” and its potential negative impact on the world economy. Then, there is decreased manufacturing output that may spell the beginning of another recession. A lot of people I’ve spoken to recently have voiced their fears over losing their jobs, or having to scale back. While I understand their worry, my reply to them is there’s really no point in worrying. Good times come and go.
Let me share a story from my childhood that illustrates this really well…
When I was younger and living in an ashram, we had to look for means of livelihood. The best option was farming and selling the harvested crop for money. I remember, vividly, the first year we started farming.
Most of us had no knowledge of farming whatsoever and had to rely on the advice and guidance from our elders. Being first-timers, we started with planting one sack of rice on one hectare of land. We toiled tirelessly to ensure our crop would grow healthily – fertilising, watering our crop, weeding bad growth, and making sure our crop was pest-free. It was back-breaking work but we soldiered on, hoping to get a good harvest. The end result surprised us all. We harvested a record 126 sacks of rice! Of course, we were beyond ourselves with joy, this being our first time.
We had been so excited to farm that we never thought of a plan after harvesting. It never occurred to us that we would need a barn in which to store our rice. Not having built one, we stored the sacks out in the open. We were literally sleeping on the sacks of rice! That’s how much of novices we were.
Rearing to go after our success, we waited for the next harvesting season. Wanting to double our harvest, we put in even more effort this time. With hard work, we had gotten 126 sacks the first time. So, double the effort equals double the gain, right? It doesn’t take a mathematician to come up with that formula. However, that year, the Philippines faced one of its worst typhoons ever. Not only was our growing crop destroyed, the 126 sacks were all washed away since they were not protected in a barn.
We were absolutely devastated and almost gave up. However, as hard as it was, we had to pick ourselves up and continue planting.
You might wonder why I’m telling you this story. The moral is to never give up. After we lost our entire crop, we did not want to plant again. What’s the point, we thought? Do we not think like this at times? The fact is many things in life are beyond our control. We didn’t know what the season will bring but we could control the amount of effort we put in. In fact, that is the only factor we can control.
It’s the same in business – there will be good and bad years but we never know when. The more pertinent question is, should we stop trying? We’re all like farmers – planting seeds of opportunity, weeding out bad growth and continually harvesting. Now the storm may be coming. This might be a bad year economically. However, complaining and worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere. Good and bad times are a part of life, like day and night.
What happens is not in our hands but one thing we can’t do is sit around and speculate. Just as farmers don’t stop planting, businessmen shouldn’t stop investing in an idea just because they’ve lost once.
Happy New Year!
Group Managing Director