As we begin our slow-motion car crash into the next recession (whenever that may be), the cyclical nature of life and business cannot be ignored. Thinking back through our careers, many of us will have had times of feast and famine, but in a similar way to the fortunes of any economy, the times of famine do not necessarily need to be desolate and wasted.
There are few more creative times than when things are tough. You have to fight to ensure the security of your family, and it is often in adversity that all kinds of relationships are tested, with most coming out the other side all the stronger for it. When you are under pressure, you are forced to adapt, and you learn more about yourself as a result.
In a similar way, the current vibrant “gig economy” would not have happened without the mass redundancies of 2008. Would the current entrepreneurial craze be so big if it weren’t for the disillusionment of the masses with corporate life? It is sad that these brave souls are now facing similar cutbacks as the start-up bubble deflates a little, but they will no doubt learn some fresh lessons and get ready to “go again.”
When you are at the peak, it is something to be savoured, as the pressure is off and life seems easy, but if you stay at the peak, it becomes your new normal, and life doesn’t seem so enjoyable anymore. We live for challenges – evolution and continuous development are the very essence of our DNA – without the peak and trough nature of our careers, we would never have the chance to learn lessons through the troughs and then apply them during the peaks.
It is even possible to chart an active course through the troughs rather than a reactive one. The choices in front of you don’t look great, but they are still choices. Take those paths that will give you that vital experience to make the most of on the way up. If you do this, it will give you that little bit more motivation to get through each day, and you may be surprised at how quickly you start to thrive again. Seeing a downturn in fortune as a positive is something that only the most optimistic of us can manage, but if there is a real light at the end of the tunnel, even the deepest of troughs won’t last that long.
The important thing about being creative when times are hard, is that it keeps you moving. It is so easy to slowly sink into the mud with no hope of redemption, but if you see a trough as an opportunity, it doesn’t matter if you are not getting anywhere for a while, the most important thing is to remember how to keep moving.
So, don’t take the peaks for granted and eventually power yourself out of those troughs. Life throws some curveballs sometimes, but there is always something to be learnt in them.
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury