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In Business and Life, Hoping Things Will Get Better is NOT the Answer


For years, Blockbuster failed to recognize Netflix as a competitor; even once Netflix had garnered $600,000,000 in revenue. Blockbuster was paralyzed by layers of bureaucracy and processes. It was a company that employed hundreds if not thousands of employees all incentivized by the wrong motivations. But worst of all—Blockbuster kept doing the same thing, over and over, despite major shifts in technology and cultural expectations. It almost literally “sat” there, hoping things would get better despite every signal in the world saying they wouldn’t.

Yet Blockbuster only serves as an incredibly public example of doing nothing in the face of changing circumstance and obvious trouble. We all face similar situations each day—and unfortunately become just as paralyzed. It’s because when things get hard, it’s hardest to act. Yet that’s exactly the moment when acting is most important.

The past two weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. Between school, work, travel, the common social pressures of any college student and a variety of other variables life got pretty heavy—if not downright exhausting. Seasonal depression may have played a role—as I know from past experience that this time of year usually drags me down a bit.

All I wanted to do was sleep more—eat unhealthy foods, avoid the hard problems—and hide a little bit. My health began to deteriorate, it was harder to focus in meetings, and they were becoming the types of meetings I didn’t even want to show up to. I was dreading each day. It became easier to place blame on others, and defer more and more responsibility. But I was able to catch myself early, and am coming up with a credo for myself to avoid weeks like those in the future.

I Will Keep My Eyes Open—and Will Be Honest

We’re often not honest with ourselves—especially in the face of imminent obstacles or challenges. We love to ignore upcoming and obvious challenges because we don’t want them to exist. We see them, and just “hope” they will go away. But if we force ourselves to be honest, force ourselves to critically think at every systemic shift around us, we’ll be able to act sooner.

People wait an average of 3 hours after having a heart attack before going to the hospital. That’s deadly. It’s because they don’t want to believe they are having a heart attack. But the sooner we are honest with ourselves, the sooner we can take action and prevent further damage later.

I Will Act, Now—Not Later

Avoiding the problem until the last possible moment is not the answer. Solving hard problems costs energy, costs stress, and is hard—but the sooner we take action, the less painful the ultimate solution will be. I will not sleep in the face of adversity.

I Will Not Take Shortcuts

The more shortcuts we take—the more problems we will be causing for ourselves later. Putting things off—or doing things to delay facing a problem lays unnecessary stress on ourselves for longer periods of time—and will force obstacles to pile up on themselves.

Forward is the Only Way Out

The only way to get out of hard situations is by constantly moving forward. When things get hardest, the pressure gets stronger, and the friction becomes more intense. It often becomes easiest to let the pressure of obstacles push us farther and farther back into a warm and comfortable fog.

But if we give into that pressure, by the time we finally open our eyes again, and are ready to take action we’ll realize that we have farther, still, to go.

I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out—so actionable suggestions are welcome. But the most important thing seems to be awareness and an ability to garner the energy to act.

Title Photo Credit: flickr

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Written by Ali Hamed

[5'9", ~170 lbs, male, New York, NY] My blog posts are meant for early-stage entrepreneurs. They’re usually about things I’ve learned the hard way.