By Paul Reilly
Monday, January 4 was the first official business day of 2021. As I commuted to work that morning, there was a dense fog blanketing the St. Louis area. I chuckled, wondering if this was a sign of things to come. I also noticed a highway sign flashing, “REDUCED VISIBILTY. SLOW DOWN!” What a fitting metaphor for the previous year—a year filled with uncertainty and low visibility. Passing the sign, I thought to myself, ‘No more slowing down through uncertainty.’ So, I hit the gas, literally flooring the pedal. I do not recall how fast I was going, but I made it through the fog safely, quickly, and ticket free.
Racing through the morning haze, I was reminded of the Stockdale Paradox in Jim Collins’ Good to Great. Admiral Jim Stockdale was a POW during the Vietnam War. He was tortured and imprisoned over an eight-year period at the “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp. When asked how he survived, Stockdale said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
The long-awaited 2021 is here. Here’s the brutal fact: this year still feels like last year. There is no telling when the haze from 2020 will completely lift, but we know that it will lift. This year is not about slowing down. There was enough of that last year.
Now is the time to step on the gas! As you experience moments of uncertainty, step on the gas! If you’re scheduling six appointments per day, step on the gas and make it eight! If you do not think the timing is right to call that prospect, then step on the gas and make the call!
The more you slow down, the closer you get to stopping. Your momentum is generated by effort. Your vigorous effort must cut through the thickness of any fog. Focus on what you can control, your effort. Keep your foot on the gas!
A new year brings new challenges and a renewed sense of hope. As we begin this new year, I hope you are filled with excitement and anticipation. Last year we learned that anything is possible, and our world can change overnight. This year will also prove anything is possible, just in a more positive way.