Four Weeks to Go

Four weeks from tonight we’ll joyously celebrate the end of 2009 and welcome the new year — a new beginning with renewed hope for economic recovery, health and the still-elusive world peace.  Now is the time for CEO’s and their management teams to anticipate how they’ll jump-start the new year.

2009 will be remembered as a year that challenged everyone globally, businesses in just about every industry; homeowners with tighter budgets and families facing the unimaginable prospect of foreclosure; the employed working harder with fewer resources and the unemployed desperately seeking work in a dismal economy; continued terrorism, war and conflict in the Middle East; and a worldwide epidemic.  In fact, the only companies frenzied by too much demand were those struggling to manufacture enough vaccine to fight the H1N1 flu.   2009 was the year of “mission critical” investments, and a paralyzing wave of doom and gloom that prompted too many people and companies to hunker down…and just wait.

2009 kicked off with the historic inauguration of the United States’ first African American president — a candidate who ran on a platform of much-welcomed change.  Unfortunately the euphoria so many felt inadvertently set us up for unrealistic expectations that change would happen immediately.   We’d been waiting so long…Instead the year was marked by the harsh reality that recovery and real change take time.

While we no longer expect life to return to “business as usual” because we know it won’t — as it didn’t after the earlier bust — we remain hopeful.  We’re encouraged by the language we’re now hearing, “recovery” (albeit slow and not yet in every sector), “growth,” and even industrial “ramp up” to meet renewed demand.   The improved morale and optimism are a powerful reminder of the impact language has on our well-being.

This year’s holiday season that kicked off with Thanksgiving, continues with the eight days of Chanukah, and moves toward Christmas week, is an opportunity to find reasons to celebrate.  New Year’s Eve this year will help all of us look ahead again to new possibilities, renewed positive spirit and a belief that, as Patti LaBelle belts out in one of my favorite songs, we will survive!

Company leaders and management teams should kick-start 2010 with events that inspire and messages that clarify the ways in which each person can contribute to success.   Look ahead now (beyond year-end wrap-up) to plan for dynamic ways to jump-start new attitudes, new ways of working together and new opportunities in 2010.  The potential that next year holds is just four weeks away.

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