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Give Me A Break

Is it time to Take a Break?

It has been said that a pilot that is landing a jet airplane is really conducting a controlled crash. I’ve heard that piloting a plane during takeoff is a 3-minutes of pure emotional rush and the landing is 3-minutes of sheer terror. In that way, explaining spring in this business is like spreading out the five minutes of controlled crash landing of a jet on an AIRCRAFT CARRIER into five weeks of pure adrenalin rush mixed with moments of sheer terror.This article has been brewing in the draft box for a while because we know this spring has been extra tough on a whole bunch of you. The great build-up through April met the coldest, wettest, wildest May ever in a very large part of America. Let’s put it this way. If you had a really great spring, don’t be bragging to your peers about it until you have tested the water and found out how they fared.

Hey, this spring has taken a toll on us too as we have commiserated, empathized, held hands, given pep talks, and walked side by side many of my clients through it. The tough have gotten going and made the best of a really, really, bad situation.  You are to be commended for that.

Take Five

We hear owners brag about how many weeks they’ve worked 18-hour days without a day off. Or that they took their first day off on July 4th. This is nothing to be bragging about folks, especially if you’re doing it on your “summer vacation” at an industry trade show. With this type of fatigue you need periods of rest to be able to have clear judgment, make good decisions, and to treat other people well. I don’t care how good you are. You are not that good when you are fatigued. Neither am I. No one is.

Leave Two – Leave Too

If you will just trust the Work-Rest Principle to work for you it will. Just leave work early two days in a row. Early in your case may not be early in comparison to the 8-5 crowd leaving  early. Just leave at 5 and tell your staff to take care of things and you’ll see them in the morning. It’s surprising what people can do without you when they have the opportunity.

Once you’ve seen the place survive if you leave on-time after all these months leave for two days – in a row. Your mind and body need a two-day break to get the rest necessary to even begin to recover. Pretty soon you’ll be thinking clear enough to figure out where to go from there.

Onward HO!

It’s time to let go of what happened, deal with the aftermath, celebrate victory (if you’re one of the fortunate) and get yourself psyched to build up the best spring plan you have ever created. 2011 is right around the corner.Okay, its six-months away, but really that is so close you had better be scared.

Can You Open Again Next Spring?

Some of you could skip right over this but maybe you should read it just in case you can help a brother in need, or God forbid, you have to go through it someday. Its scary having some cash in the bank, but not nearly enough to pay the bills to open next spring. It’s even scarier if you were in that position last year and made it though. Can you do it again? In some cases companies have made it through and opened again against all odds. There is just an immeasurable amount of power in hope and the hard work of planning every detail necessary to claw your way through.

Highest and Best Use of Time and Money This Summer

There is a phrase used in the real estate business to help make decisions on what to do with a piece of property – “Highest and Best Use”. Let’s apply the same phrase to the money you have in the bank right now.

There are many decisions to be made about that money. Send the taxes to the government, buy stuff so you don’t have to send so much in taxes to the government, pay vendor payables, repay the bank line of credit, put some back for emergencies, spruce up the place a little, get some education, see the world, etc. Which of these represents the “Highest and Best Use of Money”? Which one of them, if you invested in it might pay for the others?

Good questions huh?

Consider Good Advice

Remember to consider good advice when it comes to putting your time and money to the Highest and Best Use. You may just be able to do more because you started investing in the right place first.

Would the Highest and Best Use of your money be an investment to get the knowledge, experience, and a clear head to see what you and your associates cannot? There is something to be said for getting good advice from someone outside of your business family.

Could someone else…

  • see opportunities that are hidden from your view?
  • identify the underlying issues that led to current business problems?
  • help you decide not only what to do, but also how to do it so it works?
  • see the obvious that is not so obvious when you are too close to the situation?
  • be impartial, and bold enough to uncover and wade through hidden agendas and issues in a fair and reasonable way?
  • bring the experiences of both failed and successful solutions to problems just like yours?
  • have a perspective not clouded by family relationship?
  • think more clearly because they do not have the financial pressures you have?
  • understand how the business works and not be bogged down with “this is how we’ve always done it” or that’s how everyone else does it.
  • bring their experience helping other companies sort through the same issues you face?
  • help you find hidden, wasted, or under-performing money in your business to pay for their services plus earn a profit?
  • help you gain confidence, peace of mind as the leader and manager of your business?
  • help you develop and increase the profitability of your business?

Yes, these are some of the characteristics we bring to our clients as their business adviser/consultant.

Can You Afford NOT To?

Many of you do not have the money or are unsure that it would be worth the money to get good advice. You may be stuck in a never ending cycle that is more likely to start a going down than it is to go up. What if you could hire us without risk?

But the real question may be this one. Are you big enough to accept good advice?

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5 Responses

  1. Dear Sid,

    Carol and I did get away for a few days. We are planning on going to OFA and the perennial plant conference in Oregon. In additon we hope to bring folks to the fall conference with us in late Sept. We also plan on being gone the month of October.

    We also plan to spend some time in August visiting other gardens and trials across the US looking for great plants.

    In additon to this there will be buying shows for us and the staff in the fall.

    I know you are great and you have helped us a lot. The problem we are now having with your ideas along with Bobs is just plain implementing them. We have traveled widly and seen many things. We have read many books on management and leadership.

    It now involves changing hearts. This is a slow time consuming adventure.

  2. Ed,

    Most things meaningful take more time. Yes, it takes time, particularly to bear the weight of past decisions while on a new course.

    I didn’t mention taking time away from the entire garden business but that was what I meant so I am glad you brought it up because that is how a lot of other readers will also be thinking. It is a break to get away from your own business, but when everything around you is related to your business in some way it is never really a truly restful break. I’m sure you’ll visit with your daughter and her family while you’re out west. And I hope you’ll put in some time on other interests along the way.

    One of my favorite escapes is to backpack on the AT ( Appalachian Trail ) with my son and a few other friends. This has become an annual event that we look forward to as we “section hike” the 2278 miles of the trail one 50-70 mile piece at a time. It is just nice to plan the trip and follow the plan while enjoying the scenery and interesting people and learning about their lives while on the trail. We have discovered the “parallel universe” that exists on the trail separate from daily life off the trail. Unfortunately there is more and more connection to the outside world with cell phone coverage on the tail and wireless access at every stop.

    Our entire family also enjoys a week at a rented beach house along the Carolina or Florida coast each year.

    In my opinion, it is much better for mental health to get a break other than visiting garden centers and related events as much as I love doing that.

    Even though I would not do anything different than I am right now professionally, there is just a time and place for disconnecting from the usual life no matter how much we love it.

  3. “Let’s put it this way. If you had a really great spring, don’t be bragging to your peers about it until you have tested the water and found out how they fared”

    I feel for any business affected by circumstances beyond their control. I have been there many times in the last 38 years. I know ups and downs.

    Talking about how your year is going, if it is positive, is just being truthful. Do the lucky few have to be silent and the last to speak? Unfair and unrealistick.

  4. Great point Victor. You are right.

    What I mean is to be empathetic. While misery loves company it isn’t good to dwell on it. I can only imagine the mood of some of the trade shows this summer. It helps more perhaps to know that others have been through similar situations and that they got through it. Someone wise once said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Sometimes there is the opportunity to share some ideas on how you did it, some encouragement that they can do it to, and maybe even offer up some resources or help that you’re aware of.

    One of my “best reads” in the past year is John Maxwell’s book, Failing Forward. It is full of stories of people who either made big mistakes or had big misfortunes and how they overcame, persevered, or started over.

    Certainly, there is nothing wrong with celebrating. In fact some celebrating is in order even when we’ve accomplished small things, especially when you have taken actions that improve your results.

  5. I understand Sid. For 7 months this year I will have been in my own little world with my garden center. This Summer I will be going to San Antonio, Tennessee and Las Vegas to shows. My daughters are going to the IGC in Chicago. We know that we will have to be considerate and sensitive to the plight of other nurserymen that were less fortunate this year. But…we will not lie if we are asked point blank how sales were. When I blog I have to assume that the readers see our ups and downs. I hope being candid and conveying our reality is never confused with bragging.

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