Did you know that more than 10% of The Forbes 400 are immigrants? Many have theorized about why it seems immigrants tend to make more in their lifetimes than their native-born counterparts. I have my own theories. Americans have been conditioned to have an entitlement mindset and to just wait for things to work out or be done for them. Immigrants, on the other hand, expect to work their tails off for absolutely everything.
Immigrants are more likely to prepare for the worst and hope for the best while native-born Americans are more likely to hope for the best and therefore, not prepare for anything. Every parent of kids’ preschool-age or older knows how maddening it is to have them ignore you when you tell them to bring a coat. While you’ve checked the forecast, and know rain or snow is coming, all they see is the clear sky overhead. It’s intuitive with our personal lives to plan ahead, but we should do the same with business, too. If you’re seeing blue business skies overhead now, it’s a perfect time to prepare and make a plan for when the storm clouds roll in. If you want to thrive in 2017 under any circumstances, it’s time to adopt an immigrant mindset and be prepared for the worst.
Below are three steps to be ready for anything that may come your way in the coming year:
1) Assess potential challenges
Make a list of circumstances that could derail your business. This is not an exercise in gloom and doom: It’s one to prevent doom and gloom. Maybe your top producers quit or retire or the market has a downturn (it is cyclical, after all, and we are due for one anytime now). Maybe your competitors offer a better work environment and start stealing away your top talent or attracting the best new talent (millennials, specifically).
2) Make a plan for those circumstances
You will be beaten by your competition if you’re making a plan under duress rather than ahead of time. Let’s take the last potential challenge, for example. There are more millennials in the workforce than ever: The way that you recruited and attracted employees in 2016 is going to have to change in 2017. It’s nothing to be afraid of, but it is something to plan for. Does your business have what millennials are looking for? If not, make a plan to bring them in. Consider what you are going to do to adapt and create a place where employees want to stay. Write a detailed plan with steps to get there.
3) Execute the plan
In business, we sometimes wait until the middle of the storm—when our brain stops working—to try to make a plan. People tend to have one of three reactions in a tough situation: They fight and get aggressive, flee the situation completely, or freeze and get paralyzed. Having a plan ahead of time allows you to skip the panic of trying to figure it out in the middle of the stress. Instead, when it gets rough, you can just execute the existing plan rationally and calmly.
Preparing for the worst allows leaders to maintain certainty, commitment, and courage, which is important for the whole team. It’s dangerous for your team to see you losing your cool. Having a plan and executing it amid the chaos gives you an edge. It’s time to think like an immigrant. You can still hope for the best (I am all for optimism) just be sure to also be prepared for the worst of times. After all, this is how you’ll end up back in the best of times.