During WWII, the British government used a series of slogans to manage the public mindset, the most enduring of which is “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It lives on in memes, coasters, fridge magnets, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and mugs. It was a slogan used to manage fear and an attempt to maintain a mindset of EGBOK (everything will be okay) amid deep uncertainty.
Uncertainty is back, and the world of NICE (no inflation, constant expansion) enjoyed over the last decade in many economies has ended.
Rising inflation and interest rates; an unstable currency; the seemingly unstoppable march of energy costs; and the almost certain probability that the unemployment rate will begin to rise all contribute to an alarming increase in the cost of living. Exacerbating and feeding more uncertainty are the impacts being felt by climate change, global conflict, and trade barriers while still trying to recover from the COVID supply chain disruptions, the isolation of remote work, online fatigue, and eyewatering levels of national debt. These and a litany of other local and regional grumblings can collectively disassemble any sane, rational person.
Exasperated, we turn to our politicians and leaders, demanding that they “fix” everything. They did promise a better life for everyone! Well, we all know how that has worked out. When there are no cogent answers to complicated problems, slogans become the mantra governing life for many again. Keep Calm and Carry On, put one foot in front of the other, keep your head down and quietly hope and pray that EGBOK. Embrace a life of austerity nostalgia—that is what it asks you!
It all stinks of resignation. It breeds apathy. It stunts growth. It makes you poorer. It erodes your independence and confidence. It seeds negativity, discontent, and blame. It begs you to be content with weekend muddles in the woods with your trusty labradoodle, Rusty! It works for the government that holds no practical answers to private business owners’ economy. It also works for your competitors, so long as they don’t get duped into embracing it.
The antidote is to live and lead with a growth mindset.
A growth mindset embraces the environment for what it is but directs energy and effort only to what you have control over. It allows your actions to be led by your vision for your company and yourself as a business leader. It wears a lens of opportunity, recognising that uncertainty changes the status quo and cracks open new opportunities. It acts, despite uncertainty, and embraces failure as a teacher, not a measure of who you are. In times like these, competitors will hesitate to invest in the changes needed to adjust to the changing circumstances of their customers until certainty begins to calm the stormy seas of the economy.
And whilst they do as they are told and “Keep Calm and Carry On”, you will be eating their lunch!
Written Pavlo Phitidis, Aurik Co Founder & CEO.