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No Such Thing as the 'New Normal'

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I recently attended a business networking luncheon and overheard a few business owners engaged in a heated discussion. They were discussing the economic climate as it exists today, taxes, health care insurance costs, and an endless list of “woe is me.” At one point, someone made a comment that due to these reasons, what we have today is the “new normal.” He went on to say that the best days are behind us and as smart business people, we need to adjust to the ways things are today.

Adjust to the way things are today? Seriously?

I realize that the past few years have not been a walk in the park for many of us. But to accept that things will never be same as they were and to give up hope is self-defeating. I could not help thinking that accepting that things cannot be changed will actually end up being their downfall. A defeatist attitude will in fact cause the very thing they probably fear the most: failure.

Let’s say the New York Yankees fail to make the playoffs a few years in a row. Do you think the managers, players and coaches get together during the offseason and tell each other, “Well, I guess we should accept the fact that we can’t win anymore. After all, we used to win a lot, but the past few years have been tough. It looks like this is the new normal, so we better get used to that fact.” On the contrary, no matter what kind of success the Yankees have in a given season, at the start of the next season, their goal is to win the World Series. And as business people, we need to think the same way.

THINKSTOCKToday is not like yesterday and tomorrow will not be like today. That’s called life. Nothing remains the same and what happens in the past does not guarantee tomorrow’s success or failure. Here’s the motto I live by: Make today better than yesterday, and work hard to ensure that tomorrow will be better than today. That’s the only thing we have: our ability to not just accept change, but to actually help create it.

The truth is your attitude toward life will dictate your outcome. Point your internal compass in the negative direction, and be prepared for a long, hard road toward eventual failure. But, point your compass in a positive direction, and you will see how things will fall into place. Will it be easy? No. Every journey is filled with bumps in the road. You can view those bumps as obstacles to success, or you can view them as stepping stones to something greater. It’s your choice.

If you’re reading this column, you are a survivor. You have endured the pains of a long economic recovery, the massive undertaking of changing technology and countless changes to the fabric of our industry. But you are still here—maybe a little weathered, but a lot smarter and a whole lot stronger. Use this experience to your advantage.

It is crucial for you as a shop owner to know where you’re headed. That’s called vision, and all great leaders need to have vision. I have said this countless times in the past: You, the leader, set the tone for your shop. People will follow you if you are a strong leader, a leader with vision and clarity. People will not follow a weak leader, someone with no vision and a negative view of the future.

In the 1970s, many thought electronic ignition and disc brakes would be our demise. In the 1980s, it was fuel injection and computerization that would add to that demise. Today, we have changing demographics, hybrid cars, electric cars, a volatile economic state and myriad issues on a global scale. But do you really think this is anything new? A brief look at history will show you that people have always been confronted with problems. It’s how we deal with those problems that makes the difference.

There will always be the naysayers, those who say the world is against us, that there is some unknown force that stands in our way. Don’t listen to them; don’t get sucked into going down the path of mediocrity. It’s a road with no future, a road littered with casualties. Accepting the new normal is accepting your fate, and that means accepting failure.

The truth is, the only obstacle to your personal success is the person you look at in the mirror each and every morning. And that person is the only person who can make the biggest, positive difference in your life. Again, the choice is yours.


Joe Marconi has more than three decades of experience in the automotive repair industry. He is the owner of Osceola Garage in Baldwin Place, N.Y., a business development coach for Elite Worldwide and co-founder of autoshopowner.com. Reach him at jmarconi@ratchetandwrench.com

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