It’s as predictable as the day following the night. One day you will attempt to read the label on a bottle of aspirin, or be checking the nutrition label on a candy bar (nice effort, but that’s akin to ordering a Diet Coke with your Big Mac), or, Heaven forbid, be trying to read an article on your iPhone or Android, and the words will be a little blurry. You’ll blink several times to clear the view to no avail. “Why do these manufacturers keep making these letters smaller and smaller? Geez,“ you mutter to yourself.
As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I feel I have to defend these helpless manufacturers. They are not conspiring against you. The words aren’t getting any smaller.
Visions of disapproving librarians peering over their bifocals dance through your head. Thoughts of the speaker reaching into his suit pocket to pull out his glasses to read a quote overcome you. And, images of the reading glasses rack next to the Geritol at the pharmacy begin to haunt you.
Eventually it happens to most everyone. It’s called Presbyopia. It’s the eye’s diminished ability to focus on nearby objects over time. It usually rears its ugly head in your 40s. For many of you, that’s an eternity away. For some, it’s a current reality. And, for many others, they are on to even more fun, age-related adventures.
Usually, when you get Presbyopia, you don’t run out and buy reading glasses. You squint and fight it. You don’t want to join this esteemed group. By giving in, it’s an admission that you are getting older. None of us want to do that. But, eventually, it gets harder and harder to read. So, we give in and buy our first pair of reading glasses. And what happens? Well, not much. No one really seems to care, but reading has gotten a whole lot easier, and enjoyable. You could have avoided a lot of stress and strain had you addressed the problem immediately.
The process one goes through in identifying the onset of Presbyopia, denying it, then finally accepting and acting on it is similar to a process we all go through as business owners and leaders. We all want bulletproof, financially-stable and culturally-superior companies with perfect business models. But, in every area of our companies, Presbyopia will eventually sneak up on us. For example:
- Your business will be negatively impacted by competitors.
- Your company will eventually have financial challenges.
- Your staff won’t always get along well with each other.
- Your strategy or business model won’t always be right.
When these problems arise, and they will, will you ignore and deny them or will you admit that you have a problem and act on it?
Research in Motion had Presbyopia several years ago and denied it. They squinted and blinked their way through several years of denying that they had a problem. In a span of two years, the market share for Blackberries went from over 50% to less than 25%, and sales have begun to steeply decline. They denied the significance of iPhone and Android smartphones. They denied that their business-centric user base was evolving. Their share price has dropped 52% this year and they just announced a 2,000-person layoff. They are scrambling to survive.
No business is perfect. Every business has problems. The difference is how you deal with the inevitable problems. Will you deny them, squint and hope they go away, or will you meet them head-on and address them right away? Will you be the person moving the aspirin bottle back and forth and struggling to read the recommended dosage or will you smile, slip on your reading glasses, and easily read the label?