Don’t Forget to Drain the Swamp!

My father started his business when I was two or three years old.  The first time I remember” going to work” with him, I was around five or six years old.   Every business owner’s kid goes to work, either out of curiosity or to get the kid out of the house and give a spouse a break.  I remember seeing a plaque on his desk that said, “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is easy to forget that you came to drain the swamp.”  I had just learned to read, so it was cool in my juvenile mind that I could say ass in front of my dad.  That memory makes me smile to this day.  I can still remember that plaque.  It was a vintage 1970s piece of art – loud colors on glass and an alligator with a grin on his face standing cross-legged leaning up against a pole with a swamp in the background.  If I had any artistic ability whatsoever, I could reproduce it.  Unfortunately, I have limited artistic ability and I have no idea where the plaque went. 

When I was older, my Dad told me that someone bought him that plaque when he started his business.  He kept it as a reminder to the time he hung his shingle out and prayed for someone to return his phone call.  I relayed that story to a colleague at work and she gave me the plaque that proudly sits on my desk.  It is a reminder of my father and a reminder, especially now, that I came to drain the swamp.  That swamp for me is building a long-term, sustainable, successful business. 

With the deluge of coronavirus news, yes, we have to focus on day to day challenges.  But everyone, especially leaders, needs to also look ahead.  What happens in 1 month, 3 months, next year, five years from now?  At some point, things will get back to “normal.”  Of course, every crisis has an impact on what that normal is.  Spend some time thinking about what that normal is going to look like in your industry, for your customers, for your career.  You’ll be better for it. 

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