In Franz Kafka’s seminal work Metamorphosis, the protagonist — a salesman named Gregor Samsa — wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a huge cockroach.
Samsa goes through various stages of coping with his dilemma and once he comes to terms with the fact that he is unable to go back to his old form, he begins to figure out how he can make the best of a bad situation.
Similarly, we may face tough economic times or personal difficulties that disrupt our very existence. For instance, you fear you may not meet your sales targets in the anticipated downturn, or you worry as a small business owner that your keenest competitor will win over your customers.
Whatever the circumstances, you want to survive and thrive; maybe even be an inspiration to people who find themselves in a similar situation.
An effective recipe for navigating life’s obstacle courses is summarised in the acronym DICE. Each letter of the word stands for a quality you need to embrace to ride the waves of uncertainty and end up safely on the shore.
The four ingredients are: Discipline, integrity, consistency and enthusiasm.
Discipline is the ability to govern conduct or activity to achieve a prescribed pattern of behaviour. As American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn says: “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
It is discipline that motivates you to carry out dreary but necessary tasks or meet your study goals when you would much rather be with friends at the pub.
As personal effectiveness guru Stephen Covey puts it: “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
In the corporate world, you will better survive the tough times if you exercise discipline in every aspect of your work. Work hard on building your network of allies, be clear about the goals you are expected to meet, keep your productivity high and contribute in as many ways as you can.
It takes discipline to carry out these activities consistently, but they will contribute to your peak performance — and survival — in the organisation.
Running a business without integrity is like driving a car without brakes. Integrity is the “brake” that allows you to check and measure your performance, and it ensures you do what is right.
Integrity is the foundation of right ethical behaviour. It enables people and businesses to perform effectively without negative consequences resulting from poor ethical choices.
The by-product of integrity is consistency. When you display a high level of integrity, you show you operate from consistent principles and are not easily swayed by the opinions of others.
A consistency of purpose propels you to continuously check and question your actions. When you act with consistency and from principle, people trust and respect you. In an area like sales, much depends on the relationship you build with your clients. If they trust and like you, they will continue to buy from you.
Says Mary Kay Ash, a successful businesswoman and the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics in the United States: “A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.”
In tough economic times, the one thing that will keep you going is enthusiasm. With a positive attitude, your mind will be open to many possibilities and you will find alternative ways to resolve situations that are far from ideal. This will set you apart from others who have simply given up.
As American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed: “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”