Leaders Know How to Deal with the Cycle

Do you know that you deal with variability and cyclicality every day? You do, whether you realize it or not. Things change. The sun doesn’t rise at the same time every day. The timing of the tides change. Summer yields to fall, fall to winter. And so on. We deal with variability and cyclicality in one form or another every day of our lives.

Have a favorite sports team? Manchester United? The Yankees? The Warriors? The Patriots? Do they dominate EVERY year? Do they win the English Premier League every year? Or the World Series? Or the Super Bowl? You know the answer. It’s “no.” A team like Manchester United may dominate a league for a period of time like they did under Sir Alex Ferguson. But they don’t dominate forever. And they didn’t win the league championship every year. There is variability and cyclicality. Great leaders know how to deal with both. But today I’m going to focus on cyclicality.

Sunshine follows the storm. Then the storm returns. Followed by sunshine. … We start out as helpless babies, develop into strong and capable adults and then become elderly adults who are a lot like helpless babies. … Sports teams win the championship, then fall off, then win again. … Styles come and go. Baggy jeans are in, then skinny jeans (really!). But baggy jeans will be back. … The same with fat and skinny ties. … You get the point. Styles come and go. Weather comes and goes. Business fads come and go. Sports prowess comes and goes. National powers come and go. At one point Spain and the Netherlands were global powers. Today? Not so much.

Sometimes things change but don’t return. For example, I don’t see the Netherlands ever becoming a world power again. Other things change and do return. For example, I see the Yankees winning more World Series in the future. Yet other things cycle on a regular, somewhat predictable, basis. The seasons (fall, winter, spring, and summer; monsoon and dry; and so on), production capacity in the chemical industry (which generally follows a 20-year cycle), etc.

In the picture above, a storm is rolling in. The morning had been beautiful. Clear and sunny. Then the storm rolled in. Quickly. Rain and cool temperatures appeared. But did it rain indefinitely? No. The sun ultimately returned. And on and on. Weather is cyclical.

Great leaders know how to deal with cyclicality. They’re good at dealing with the cycle. Ever hear the saying, “it’s never as bad as it seems or as good as it seems?” Or “truth probably lies somewhere in the middle?” Great leaders know that sunshine is followed by rain. And they know that the rain is then followed by sunshine. And so on. Life generally happens in the middle, not at the extremes.

If you’re in a tough spot, keep pushing. The sun will come and good things will happen. … Enjoying a period of success? Great. Enjoy it. But be prepared for the rain. It will come. … Great leaders know to enjoy the sun while preparing for the rain. And they know how to deal with the rain while looking forward to the sun.

Don’t get discouraged by the rain, the trials and the failures. Keep pushing. And don’t get complacent by the sun, the success and the accolades. Be diligent and enjoy the sun while preparing for the rain. Be diligent to ride out the rain while looking forward to the returning sun. Great leaders know that cyclicality is a part of “life” and they prepare. Both in outward, practical ways and inward, mental/emotional ways.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.


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