Seeing the writing on the wall
Nothing is more ominous than finding out that we have spent most of our lives sitting in a simmering pan cooking away because the natural inclination in our bid escape is that we’ll jump straight into the fire. In keeping with metaphors this article serves to look at the fate of an entrepreneur or employee who ignorantly continues about business without noticing that they are being hung out to dry. This phrase essentially refers to the fact that they are no longer basking in the sun but drying out.
The metaphor I would like to apply is that of a lizard hanging in a pantry belonging to a predatory bird called the shrike. How is it possible that a lizard freely enjoying and basking in the sun ends up drying up impaled on a branch in a tree serving as a pantry for a shrike? It is likely that this happens to most of us because of complacency and enjoying the comforts of a job or a level of success in business.
As our world continues to spiral into unrelenting volatility we are thrust constantly into situations and circumstances of uncertainty. In such a context, the employee or entrepreneur has the tendency to rely and stake claim to the ‘devil they know’.
As our future grows darker with uncertainty, we turn to our former glories and fading present, seeking solace and safety in what we’ve known all along. We find ourselves basking comfortably in the prospect that things won’t change or that as things do change, we have something to fall back on. Yet, nothing is certain in volatile environments, and naturally around us there are people and organisations that prey on individuals who bask in fading glories of the past and the present.
Like the shrike’s prey, employees and entrepreneurs who carelessly continue to bask in the sun, end up in the shrike’s pantry. Sometimes this goes beyond individuals and small entrepreneurial firms and is also prevalent in large organisations that complacently watch changing markets with the arrogance of their past performance.
Organisations and individuals alike must realise that in the natural world everything is competing for space, be it for rudimentary survival or for actualisation. There is no time or place for comfort zones, shrikes are flying around looking for lizards carelessly basking in the sun; not paying attention to changing realities.
We must be in a position to be ready to move forward with agility and speed to avoid being the next meal.
Employees must develop a sense of awareness of the emergent changes in their organisation. Like the sons of Issachar who were renowned in Israel in the times of David for their ability to discern the times, employees must be watchful and recognize what needs to be done. If it is time to move on then an employee must make the necessary steps. If it is a matter of being patient in the current context then it is important not to move out of desperation. An employee can not linger in uncertainty and doubt.
Entrepreneurs must develop the necessary competence to navigate through the extremely predatory business climate with confidence and courage. Though speed and agility are of the utmost importance, an entrepreneur must carry with them a sense of surety and wisdom that will ensure they don’t rush forward in the wrong direction.
As for businesses small and large decision making must be a key hallmark of strategic direction. Large organisations must create the necessary environment to empower their employees and managers to make the right decisions. Whilst small organisations must create the right framework to shape strategic direction entrepreneurs and employees must be ready to take the necessary courageous steps.
No one should be left with the chilling (paradox intended) feeling that they are being hung out to dry in the burning sun. If at all one has the feeling that they are being hung out to dry, it is likely that it’s true. Instead we should be courageous enough to make the important decisions at the right time for the future.
No matter how much we can say that the future is uncertain, it is imperative that we are courageous enough to make the decisions necessary to create or establish that future.
To avoid being hung out to dry employees, entrepreneurs and small business must build with a positive end in mind (vision). One CEO of Samsung is quoted as saying, “The future is meant to be predicted but created.” So if you find yourself hung out to dry hanging from a tree in the shrike’s pantry, think for a moment and consider that maybe this is the future you decided to have.
But it is great news to know that our fate in life is not as permanent as the metaphor of a lizard hung out to dry by a shrike. Rather we are capable of changing the prospects of the next phase of our lives by making decisions and resetting our goals and expectations.
Instead of lingering in a dry and dead situation, we can become more proactive by knowing what we want and courageously making the necessary steps to attain it.
Finally, if you feel you are being hung out to dry make the necessary steps to change. If you are hung out to dry then it’s time to review your life, career and business so as to reinvigorate yourself and discover the passion for the next leg of the journey of your life.