The severity of the current economic downturn (aka, the "Worst Recession Since the Great Depression") has a lot of doomsayers declaring that things have changed forever and that we might as well get used to it.
ABC News has launched a news segment on coping with hard times, featured relentlessly on both the ABC Evening News and Good Morning America. It's called "The New Normal." The premise is, you guessed it, lean times are here to stay.
Sounds to me a lot like the "malaise days" of the Jimmy Carter Administration. The stagflation of the late '70s seemed to many to mark the passing of American economic greatness. Then came Ronald Reagan and "Morning in America" and two solid decades of prosperity and double digit annual returns on just about anything you invested in.
So I'm not buying the "new normal." And I hope leaders in businesses large and small reject the notion, too. There will be an upside to the current down draft, mark my words, and those companies putting into place the elements for their recovery plans will far out-perform their competition when things start heating up.
Echoing this sentiment is friend of Force for Good and former Governor of Kansas Bill Graves. Governor Graves now serves as the president and CEO of the American Trucking Association.
"As difficult as our recent economic past has been, I’m one of the optimists who believes we’ll see some encouraging economic developments before year end," Governor Graves wrote to me in a recent email.
"While our situation in 2010 and 2011 won’t be a return to the heady days of 2003-2007, I’m just too much of a believer in the average US citizen’s fondness for the great quality of life that we’ve all come to expect, and therefore expect to see lots of freight being moved which supplies this country's consumer demand."
Commercial trucking activity should be one of the first harbingers of a rebounding economy. Other sectors will have their first green shoots as well. Make sure your company doesn't miss the opportunity that lies ahead for those who can see past the "current normal."
- Jon Harmon