The Other Side of the Wall

November 26, 2008

On December 22, 1982, as a senior at Liberty High School, I affixed my signature to a contract that obligated me to spend the three years following my high school graduation dressed in a soldier's uniform. During the summer of '83, prior to shipping out to Fort Knox for Army basic training, I spent my remaining days as a civilian soaking up sunshine and the company of my closest friends. It was the end of an era.

Not that anything could have prepared me for the intensity of change I experienced once I arrived in Kentucky, but I may have been especially shocked by the contrast between my recent life of leisure and the relentless mental and physical demands of a cadre of screaming drill sergeants. Signing that contract, I recognized, was one of the biggest turning points of my life. The change was damn near overwhelming, but as many will attest, surviving such an ordeal can bring out the best in us. In addition to 15 pounds of muscle, I developed enormous confidence by successfully negotiating the trials set before me at Fort Knox.

No pain, no gain. Adversity is our friend. Or, as Randy Pausch said in his Last Lecture, the walls we encounter along our journey are erected to keep out those who don't want it badly enough. Few truths offer more insight for businesses trying to make sense of current economic conditions.

In a climate characterized by play-it-safe decision making and uncertainty about the future, business leaders have a choice. Many, unfortunately, will retreat into a "safe" position in an attempt to soften the dreaded impact of an impending crisis. Great leaders, however, will see challenge as opportunity, embrace change, and make bold and innovative decisions. These visionaries will lead their companies to create even more value for their clients, as well as for their employees.

This year will go down as one of incredible change at Digett. Our team has met challenge after challenge, both at work and in our personal lives, with a spirit of optimism and innovation. Because of that we are stronger, individually and collectively.

I wouldn't trade hard times for anything, because I know they shape and define our most valuable characteristics. Want to know where your company's next big success will come from? It's there, on the other side of the wall.