Why it is essential to think about the future now!
“Races are won during the winter…”. That’s what my rowing coach Jürgen Düse († 2019) repeated continuously. Why would he? And what does that have to do with seeing the future?
Back in the late ’80s, I was in a rowing team in Germany. Rowing at championship level is a hard physical sport with two training sessions per day. Not only that, but also a normal daily school routine, daily commute, ignoring weather conditions (except frozen rivers), controlling body weight etc. All that effort for a race that lasts between only 6 and 8 minutes, depending on the type of boat.
Training would be an all-year activity, although rowing is a summer sport. During winter, it was much harder to envisage the future benefits of the tough training. Particularly at the age of 16 or 17. Why train today, if the races only start in 6 months? Most of us know these moments. We can’t see the future, or we just can’t see the urgency and importance of the efforts so far ahead of success.
At Hansen Beck, we highlight with participants that “visions determine our behaviour”. Sometimes it’s hard to create and maintain positive visions. Those are the moments where we ask ourselves “is it worth it?” or “can’t I do this tomorrow?”. If we answer any of these two questions with “no”, then we move into procrastination. In sports and business alike a no-go zone!
But what else does business and training for rowing races in winter have in common?
Crisis = Winter
Winter is the time of the year when we feel summer has just passed, and good weather is far away. In a crisis, it is similar. We cling onto the good memories and successes we had, and it feels like they have vanished forever. We crave the last status-quo that we considered successful. That craving hinders us from generating positive visions for the future. With Hansen Beck, participants learn that “Is ≠ Should”. Our current status-quo must be continuously questioned, and we have to strive for improvement – all the time. This becomes even more visible in a crisis such as COVID-19. It is a crisis. It is businesses’ winter! Freezing cold. It’s now more important than ever for managers to seize the opportunity and analyse their business from A to Z, from vision, mission, strategy, critical success factors, KPI’s, business goals, tactics…and improve, maybe even reinvent it.
In times of low economic activity, we have the chance to think more than ever about the future. If we want to leave the crisis successfully, we have to envisage the future positively and reinvent our business. One thing is for sure: Only those who do endure this winter will win the race next summer!
Almost 30 years later, I got reminded again: “Races are won during the winter…”