Friday, May 15, 2009

Oscar the Grouch or Kermit the Frog?

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. ~ Winston Churchill

I was invited to an event yesterday to hear about the economic forecast - nationally, in California and locally in Southern California. It made me think of Oscar the Grouch and Kermit the Frog... Much of it was gloom and doom and the reaction in the room was mostly pessimistic. The information was interesting. The economics of consumption, housing, employment and other elements of the economy were shared.

Basically the overall news shared was mostly bad. We are in a recession that is not likely to clear up until mid 2010 and not fully recover until 2011. The good news is that it will begin to slow and turn around later this year and housing prices will bottom out this year providing opportunity for some to purchase houses that might not have been able to before.

What struck me so significantly at the breakfast, was that there was absolutely no mention or no research on some of the more emerging markets. That is, the fact that the retail market had tanked so badly last December wasn't countered with the fact that online retail jumped equally in the positive direction. Nor was anything mentioned about the green economy or other economic opportunities that address the triple bottom line - people, profit and the planet. The economy is changing and many of the old structures and ways of doing business aren't working. So to overlook these new economies is shortsighted. There is much that the old economy can learn from these new economies in terms of opportunities for change, to shift into a new direction and to profit instead of plummet.

As I listened, I thought of Oscar the Grouch and Kermit the Frog - two of my favorite childhood characters. They are good reminders of the negative and positive and the choices we have. We can recognize what is going wrong and we can grouch about it, like Oscar did and hence he lived in a trash can or we can find solutions and dream about and reach for what's on the other side of the rainbow, like Kermit.

Now of course these economists had to present the economic picture and forecast as it exists. Yet, what could be done more by economists everywhere is to include the perspective of what is working to provide some hope and some insights to what, where or how to shift the economic forecasts even faster. As a recovering policy wonk, I know that politicians and researchers tend to dwell in the negative - in what isn't. It is the rare policymaker and educational institution that looks to what is, what more can be done and how can we find more solutions. If we began to see to a more proactive and opportunistic approach to reporting and policymaking, we might begin to see a move towards the positive more quickly.

Try it out in your own personal life and make an effort to make the shift in your professional life and suggest ways for your businesses and colleagues to look for the positive, opportunity and solutions, rather than the difficulty. If we each do our part, change truly is possible.

Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done. ~ Bo Bennett

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