This is the view from the terrace this morning. The green grass, fresh air and sunshine come as a very pleasant contrast to the underlying mood of tension, crisis and worry that runs through many people’s lives at the moment. I think we are really in need of an early spring, one where every day could bring some sunshine and the signs of fresh growth as the flowers and buds appear and flourish.
Of course, if you are immune from the current economic crisis then perhaps you don’t understand what I’m talking about but from where I stand it looms overhead like an enormous black cloud making the already grey and cold winter doubly depressing. There may not be much we can do to blow away the clouds of crisis but we can at least wish for spring to come as early as possible this year and gives us all a little relief!
It might add a little certainty back into our lives as well. We know for certain that when spring arrives we’ll have rising temperatures, sunny periods, flowers, insects, leaves back on the trees, lower utility bills……….. The crisis cloud on the other hand brings nothing but uncertainty. It has been growing for months, we’ve had thousands of explanations, plenty of speculation but we still seem as far away from understanding the nature of it as we were at the beginning. The uncertainty is one of the worst things about it because everybody is just sitting there staring at it and wondering what to do next. Those at the sharpest end have already reacted with job losses now a large dose of our daily media but there are many who have simply been sitting on their hands and waiting to see what happens next. In my industry and many others we rely on people doing something. It matters not whether they sell or buy, so to speak, but we find it difficult to help people to do nothing!
Don’t believe all that talk that “there’s no money out there”, it’s a load of tosh! There is money out there, enough to make everyone feel a whole lot better than they do now, but those who have it are sitting on it and waiting. Trouble is they are not really sure what it is they are waiting for. Sure, the days where oceans of money were slopping around for anyone to have a go at getting rich quick are gone, thank God. But we don’t need those amounts of money to start feeling better about our economies. Most of the clients I’ve spoken to in recent weeks have money, they just don’t want to spend it yet.
We need to lift the mood and we need to do it urgently because everyone has sunk into a deep fug that the media seem only able to magnify with their relentless message of “the end of the world is nigh!”. We’re now at the point where knee-jerk reactions can easily become a normal part of everyday business life because of the startling lack of facts or real information on which to build a plan for the future. The media report rather vaguely that “CEE is screwed” and within 24 hours everyone starts downsizing their plans for the whole of CEE irrespective of the facts and specifics. It really is going beyond a joke now.
With nothing to lighten the hearts of those in charge of our businesses, those with the power to nourish or destroy their employees hopes and dreams, the tendency is for them to see absolutely no upside whatsoever, to just keep asking whether they have been pessimistic enough, whether they need to cut a little more, just in case. “There are no prizes for optimism” is the message of the day. So that business plan that you thought was realistic 3 months ago is now seen as wildly optimistic and the order is to cut it, just in case. From the top down the message gets repeated and in the interests of self-preservation the desire to be really pessimistic multiplies with each level you descend. Any “fat” was removed from organisations some time ago so from now on all calls to “just shave off another 10%” result directly in job losses. This is a dangerous game that leads to more human misery than might have been absolutely necessary but nobody really knows what is necessary and so there will inevitably be more pain just to be on the safe side of pessimistic.
We need to lighten up anyway because everyone’s nerves are on a knife-edge right now and pretty soon we’ll have fighting in the street. Fuses are very short. So much energy is being used up worrying about paying mortgages that are an ever rising cost or whether we’re going to keep our job or not that there’s not a lot of patience left out there for other incidents or people. The probability of people snapping at silly things is very high right now and any way to diffuse that would be most welcome.
Currencies ebb and flow, jobs are lost, companies crash all because of intangible things called mood and sentiment. These two devils can only be fought by either facts, solid information that will prove they are unfounded, which appears to be completely absent at the moment, or by good news, which nobody seems to want to deliver. Well, no harbingers of doom are going to prevent spring arriving, so bring it on, it’s all we’ve got left to look forward to! I’m certain that a sunny spring might just tip the balance between people’s view of the future being Armageddon or just very difficult times. I mean wouldn’t everyone feel a whole lot better on the way to work each day with the sun warming their faces, the flowers smiling and the birds singing? I know it all sounds a bit “Disney Princess” but I honestly believe it will have an effect, albeit subconsciously.