As I was writing my inaugural blog post (the one I posted last month) for this new business, ZipTie Advisory Group, my math skills were being challenged by the number of wildfires burning across our country’s 31st state. With over a million acres burned or burning, this year has been one of the most brutal in California’s history, while on the other side of our country, North Carolina is facing the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, causing some of the worst floods on that coast in several decades. Many of us across the country are so inundated with today’s ”most shocking reality TV moment” that we are at risk of growing numb to how the lives of real human beings are being impacted by life or death adversity. So, in this moment of serenity, know that we are praying for the lives of the brave first responders running toward the danger and for our family, our friends and our business partners who are in the path of these devastating natural disasters.
Thinking about first responders reminded me of something I read by American theologian/ pastor/ author/ educator Chuck Swindoll on facing adversity:
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
I’ve read books ad nauseum on “corporate culture,” “keys to business success,” “core ideology,” and “core values”. I’m supremely confident that most successful business leaders have read those same books. But, when I look at the websites of about 100 different U.S. companies (admittedly, mostly publicly traded banks), most of their visions, missions, core ideologies and core values are all pretty much the same. And, many of those businesses measure their success on meeting financial metrics – not whether they live their core ideology – and chances are, the repercussions of not meeting those financial metrics are not life threatening. Perhaps the mantra should read:
“Corporate vision is 10% what you write down and 90% how you live it.”
Admittedly, true life-threatening adversity exists for millions of Americans: cancer and other incurable disease, life-altering amputations, gender and racial discrimination, religious persecution, poverty, bullying – just to name a few. Each of us will be faced with true adversity at some point in our lives, the key to success – the key to moving through it – is to let your vision for your life (your core values, your greater purpose) be guided not by what you’re facing in the moment but by what you can imagine.