There is nothing permanent except change.



James was in a bind. His heating and air-conditioning business had grown along with the housing boom. He had expanded his business on the assumption that low interest rates and easy-to-obtain mortgages would keep his business growing until he could reach his goal of employing five crews and paying off his debt. At that point, his business would be sustainable even if there was an economic slowdown.

The collapse of the housing bubble caught James completely off guard.

“When will things get back to normal?” he asked during a presentation.

It was a question I had received numerous times since the economic meltdown of 2008. Most people—like James—want to know when the job market will bounce back, when the economy will return to something close to sustained growth, when the uncertainty about our future will subside, or when the rate of change will slow to a more manageable pace.

The answer they want is a timetable for returning to stable markets, low unemployment, and customers who buy their products and services. They hope for a world that is similar to the one in which they knew how to compete and succeed.

My answer is always the same and often unpopular: What if this is it? What if instability, rapid change, and uncertainty about things out of your control are the new ...

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