Season’s Greetings, from all of us at BSM. While I want to say this with the usual enthusiasm common for this time of year, I’m struggling, as are most folks, this holiday season. The thing is, I love this time of year, always have and now with three young children it is something we look forward to and enjoy in our household. We still look forward to it, and we’ll do our usual traditions and appreciate this special time with family and friends as we have in the past. Despite the fond memories and those yet ahead, 2008 is so disproportionally overshadowed by the state of the world and it’s really bringing me down. How I wish we could somehow magically remove the large economic elephant in the room for at least a few weeks, if not permanently.
That said, it’s still important to stop, look around and be thankful for what we have, whatever that may be for each of us. I recall a time in my teen years when I was battling some personal demons, and I just happened to be staring at the television right around this same time of year. I was drifting between a number of thoughts as the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was showing for the 34th time that December. I’d seen the movie a number of times in my youth but never really paid close attention to the story itself until that very day. I don’t know what drew me in on this occasion, but it did and it left a lasting impression on me that persists to this date regardless of the season.
I’m a semi-intelligent guy and don’t need to be convinced how blessed I am to be healthy, loved and respected by my family and peers. Even so, it has a humorously powerful way of slapping me upside my large head and reminding me to appreciate what I have, regardless of any challenging circumstances life hucks my way. It’s easy to lose sight of this from time-to-time and when I feel it coming on, I reach for the DVD collection and pop that puppy in for a good laugh and cry. That’s right, even though I’ve seen that grainy-ass relic of a film more times than I care to admit, I get choked up when Jimmy Stewart is surrounded and saved by his community during his darkest hour. Just as I manage to regain my composure after the scene, I’m again clobbered with emotion when he opens the inside cover and reads the note from Clarence. If you’ve never enjoyed this film or it has been a long time, this may be a good year to take it in. Why ramble about a Christmas classic when I started with “My 2008 Holiday Wish”? We’ll get to that in a sec, but simply stated it puts things into perspective for me and I suspect the same is true for other fans as well.
The significance of this reference is the moral of the story. Film making and entertainment aside, I can’t help but think about it even more so this year. I’m sick and tired of the gloomy news, I can’t take one more expert analyst projection, more news about massive lay-offs, or read any more sad stories of homeless families that thrived just six months ago before a wave of employer cut-backs. I’m sick and tired of this news and I want it to stop! A little good news would actually be nice for a change…
So here’s my wish for both the business world and my fellow citizens of the world. While perfectly understandable, please don’t panic and please continue to fight like you’ve never fought before. We may not be directly responsible for the economic turd dropped on us, but we most definitely play a large role in fixing the problems. Yes, we need to evaluate our finances and it’s wise to trim the fat, but full on amputation and hibernation will not solve this. Get smart about spending, whack the excess but for crying out loud do not shut down. Revisit and adjust investments, but don’t pull them altogether. Evaluate your budget spending in the workplace, but don’t stop spending. Ensure your marketing dollars are bringing the returns you need to justify their existence. All of these measures make perfect sense to endure what will be a long recovery period, but please don’t give up.
So there, that’s my wish for this holiday season. We each must do what is necessary to get through this, but we will. Like any enduring species the difference between survival and extinction is the ability to adapt to environmental circumstances and factors often beyond our control. So take a look around, be grateful for what we do have, make the appropriate adjustments and keep fighting the good fight. We will survive and we will ultimately be stronger as a result. My heart and thoughts go out to all those who’ve been most impacted, and I personally pledge to continue my part in this uphill battle.