The Greek Problem

Courtesy of redhandrecords' photostream on Flickr

I attended the Chapman Economic & Business Review recently.  Good to hear that in general things are looking up, however anemically, for our region.  The headline read “The Recovery Creeps Along…Not much to quicken or retard the pace of growth”.

Except for the Greek Problem.

“There is also the risk of the ‘Greek Problem’ spreading to Italy…the global economy, therefore, cannot be expected to be an engine of economic growth in 2012.”

So the issues of instability on the other side of the planet might be insignificant enough to dampen US growth or significant enough to push the US into recession.

As the group headed off to cocktails after the conference, there was an overall cautiously optimistic buzz.  Shadowed by the ominous possibility of European crisis.

I find it amazing that after all Europe has been through that something like this couldn’t be handled.  Barbarian hordes, invasions, genocide, the Blitz, Europe has seen it all.  The rise and fall of the Roman Empire.  It is a part of the world that has learned to find a way regardless of what is going on.

In his memoir, Reverberations, the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau chides the American penchant for happiness, and not unlike other Europeans, wonders why we are so obsessed with being happy.  Why can’t we just be content with getting along?  Must we always have to be happy when circumstances are contrary?  Isn’t it more sane and more normal to be content while getting through tough times?   Do we have to be perky too?

I worked with someone years ago who told of living in Germany during the latter years of World War II as a young woman and spoke of living in rubble, hanging her nylons in front of the campfire to dry and being grateful to be alive with some form of shelter, while wondering if tonight that all could change when the air raid sirens resumed.

So life can go on, civilization can be built and progress can be made, even though there might be a spectre of gloom on the horizon.  What it takes is persevering in doing the work of today, paving the way for a better tomorrow.

Today, anyone in our company you ask would probably tell you they are swamped, that we are handling more volume than ever before and that it beats the alternative.  Backlog is high, but we also have a lot of tired, stressed people.  So, does that mean we can’t still strive for a better system?  I say no. 

But how to go about that is the challenge.  How do you get shelf space in the mind of a colleague or an employee who thinks they are already overloaded, that they are trying their best and really can’t see a way of things being better?

That is the work of the Inspired Manager.  Who by the way feels overloaded and can’t see a way of things being better (a little jest).  We can set the example of continuing to persevere while continuing to look for new ways to innovate, to make things better.  We need to acknowledge the fatigue of today but not at the expense of acknowledging the possibility of a better tomorrow.  We might not have the answer today, but that does not mean we might not have it tomorrow, or the day after.  We must stay open to the possibility.  And right there is the real issue with the Greek Problem.  Greece is a tiny part of the European Union that might have to bankrupt or withdraw.  That is a problem, but it’s not THE problem.  The idea of the same pattern of failure spreading to a larger, more significant economy, that is THE problem.

Don’t get tainted by failure to the point where you are closed to hope.  Ruthlessly self-inspect and find ways to remain open to possibility.  Take action today where you can and be vigilant for tomorrow.  Don’t allow the frustration, traditions and limits of today shut you down, or worse, taint others to the possibility of things being better tomorrow.  Make that possibility a reality and inspire others to do the same.

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