Learned Anything Lately?

The Toronto Star has declared that the recession is officially over. Really? Whether the financial wizards at the Star are right or not, every new day brings more signs of people and routines returning to their pre-recession normal. As the financial dust is settling, the big question on everyone's mind is, of course, will the buying public adopt a new, more rational, sane approach to lifestyle purchases and debt, or will they resume their forty-year spending spree?

The recession has been tough on millions of people: lost jobs, foreclosed homes and retirement dreams have vanished. It's also been devastating for thousands of companies, and sobering, to say the least, for governments on both sides of the American border and abroad.

The big question is really this - have we learned anything from the events of the recent past? Will individuals, companies and governments change their ways? And, can we collectively learn from our mistakes? Conventional wisdom says, 'those who change best are those who must'. So, do we really need to change our ways, now that many are going back to work, credit is being extended and the fear mongers on CNN has moved on to other 'Breaking News'?

My hope is that we all transform our recessionary experiences into lessons learned. To do that we are going to need to:

Stop/Reflect: What's happened for you and to you in the past few months? Ask yourself, what's clear to me now that was hard to see a year ago? We hold more power than we're generally willing to own up to. How many times has your personal or professional history repeated itself? What part have you played in the creation of, or participation in, the recent economic storm, and what part could you play now to move yourself, your team or community forward?

Claim Your Victories: What's worked for you this past year, in spite of the circumstances? What have you done well? And, who and what helped you get through this mess? If you've weathered the past year and are still standing - then high-fives all-round! And don't - as my uncle used to say- forget to, dance with the ones who brung ya. Give a shout out to all your friends, family and colleagues that have helped you keep your stick on the ice.

Draw Some Lines: Learning from the past means bringing what you know now into your future. For a whole lot of folks, that's going to mean drawing a line in the sand and learning to live within their means and making better buying and business decisions from here on. For companies it may mean watching more carefully for 'moving cheese'. In the now famous fable, "Who Moved My Cheese?", Hem & Haw were caught off guard when their supply of cheese vanished bit by delicious bit. Maybe you were too.

So, right now - write down three things you will stop doing and three you will start doing that can ensure that those 'predictable surprises' are kept to a minimum!

Don't waste a good crisis! Make some decisions about how you want your life and career to be - then call me, and together we'll make sure you don't back over your new line.