Quality Blog


Jim's Gems: Avoid the Perfect Storm

July 15, 2014

After listening to a small business owner talk about his recent experiences I was reminded of the movie “The Perfect Storm," which is based on a story written by Sebastian Junger and starring George Clooney. The 2000 film was based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat, which went down at sea with all hands on board October 28, 1991.

If you recall the movie, it centers on fishing boat Captain Frank W. "Billy" Tyne Jr, played by Clooney, and his crew. Tyne is desperately trying to stay in business after a string of poor fishing outings due to not being able to find good fishing spots. Unfortunately, he is so intent on finding fish at any cost, he ignores his better judgment and years of experience to steer his ship right into the middle of a massive storm.

Listening to the business owner describe his situation, I was reminded of the parallels with the movie. This owner was under pressure to make a decision to change the nature of his business. Because he didn’t think things through clearly and rationally, he steered his business into the perfect storm. Rather than take time to carefully think through the various options, the owner pushed forward, not fully understanding the risks which he ordinarily would have avoided. What’s even more interesting is that he chose to ignore advice and many indicators that should have confirmed  this was indeed not the time for such a risky move.

In the movie, Clooney (Captain Tyne) had all of the equipment and instruments to see the weather patterns and to predict the course of the storm, but he chose to ignore everything out of desperation to catch fish. Unfortunately, this decision cost him and his crew their lives, as their boat and all of their skills on the sea were no match for the massive storm.

Luckily, this business owner did not encounter such a perilous end. His decisions cost him a great deal of money, howeve, and affected some talented people whom he had to furlough. But after some clear thinking and strategic planning, his business is prospering again. Storms don’t last forever, and the sun will indeed shine again just like in the movie.

Keep in mind that we are all exposed to extreme situations like Captain Tyne's or the small business owner's. The best course to take, however, is the one where you maneuver your ship around the storm. While it’s true that you can’t avoid all storms or adversity. you can avoid more than you might imagine with proper planning.

We’re not implying that you should never take risks. Significant gain can come from taking a calculated, well-thought risk. But sometimes, the best alternative is take a deep breath and ask yourself if the course you are on is going where you really want to go. Are you steering yourself into any storms that you could reasonably avoid?

If you are thinking seriously about heading into a storm, ask yourself if it’s really worth the ris.? If it is worth it, then move forward. Just remember that every choice has a consequence; and in most cases, when we face a storm in life, it is often of our own creation and could have been avoided.
 

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