A man was hiking through a wooded and mountainous area. He was admiring the sweeping panoramas and was especially taken with the diversity of flora and fauna he had discovered.
While enjoying his communion with nature, a low-pressure weather system quite suddenly and dramatically moved in. With little warning and consequently time to prepare, the man was soon ensconced in a deep mist and confronted with the flash of lightening and the growl of thunder. Disorientated and overwhelmed, the man stumbled upon what, he believed, was his path out of the wilderness. Quickening his pace, he reasoned that if he could just get below the belt of mist…
In the next second his foot slipped on the rain-lubricated path. He felt himself lose his footing and he began to slide ever faster down a steepening incline. Desperate to save himself from a serious fall and possible injury, he grabbed at a plant that was jutting out from what he imagined was a cliff face. His fall arrested, the man began to assess his plight. He knew that he was in steep terrain. He had remarked to himself earlier of the gradient he was traversing. Deep ravines ran on either side of the path he had chosen.
Gathering himself, he decided to call out for help hoping that another hiker would hear him. Meanwhile, the storm was gathering intensity. The wind howled and the ridge shook with the deep grumbles of the thunderbolts leaping across the sky.
“Help me, Help me. Is there anyone out there?” He implored at full throttle. “I am hanging onto a branch for dear life!”
There was no answer. He increased the volume and from deep inside issued another roar for help, though this time he considered directing his plea more as a prayer for divine intervention.
Through the crescendo of the storm, he heard a faint but distinct answer.
“Let go of the branch.”
In times of great stress, the body and its functions are infinitely in tune and authentic to what is being felt and experienced. For the man, his only response was…
“Is there anyone else out there?”
Battered, scratched and bruised, the tempest raged around him. But, as with all things, the storm abated and though dusk was deepening, the mist began to clear. To his amazement, as he looked down to fully comprehend his predicament, he realised that he was, in fact, in a small ditch and the floor was only a few feet beneath him.
He let go of the branch, landed on his feet and walked out of the ditch, more than a little exhausted and traumatised but otherwise only a little worse for wear. He later established that the advice he had received on the mountain path was not, in fact, the voice of God but rather that of a local resident who, although already further down the path, heard the cry for help and knowing the terrain offered the correct solution.
There is a moral to this story that is best summarised in a quote that has become quite close to me.
“Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.”
Spencer Johnson, author of The One Minute Manager and Who Moved My Cheese?
The pain associated with failing to adapt and act to the change that is storming around us is often far greater than the risks of taking on new ideas and rising to new challenges.
As sales professionals, we must quickly embrace the energy of the storm surges brought on by both local and global economic and social upheaval.
The waves of disruption may overtake us but we can either choose to go under or grab a surfboard!
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