Your work life can be like a roller coaster

A good friend of mine recently returned from a trip where she and her spouse traveled from one them park to another riding roller coasters.  Unlike previous trips they had taken, they found that their appetite for the coasters had dwindled and they are thinking they may need to find another hobby as they enter this new stage in their lives.

Business can also be like a roller coaster, especially entrepreneurship, and understanding how to handle the ups, downs, twists, turns and upside down issue will only make you stronger and more resilient as you progress.  Let’s take some time this morning to understand how to handle some of the challenges you find on this roller coaster of a work life we all have.

Handling the ups on your work life may not be as easy as you first imagine.  The phrase I keep in mind is this:  “Things are never as good, nor are they as bad, as they first seem.”  I see the greatest danger when times are good.  At this time we can be lulled into complacency and think that we have things just right.  This is a dangerous place to be and it keeps us from continuing to look for ways to improve.  Regardless of how well you might be doing, there is always a way to improve.

The second challenge with being on the up cycle is it may cause us to budget in a less conservative manner.  I have always taken a conservative approach to budgeting and setting expense targets on an up cycle can cause great stress when we head back down to the trough.  As a result, I always encourage others to take a conservative approach when it comes to expense budgeting.  Doing otherwise can lead to challenges that take time to overcome.

The curves of the roller coaster also have great symbolic value when compared to business.  Just when you get comfortable going in one direction, the car heads in another direction and you feel the stress and force of emotion on your entire being.  I see many of the same things when a change comes to a business.  We feel the rush of acceleration heading in one direction and then suddenly we feel the momentum shift as we head in another.

This physical change also has some similarities to the change cycle shown in the graph below:

Katzenbach & Smith accurately portray the fact that teams/organizations go through a down tick before they improve when they go through a change, just like a change in direction from a roller coaster.  This can be further proved using Newton’s Laws, but I won’t bore you with that today.

Some roller coasters have 360 loops where you are taken completely upside down.  Major changes in your market or in your process can cause you to experience the same feeling.  In many cases you can be back in your original state/orientation so quickly that you don’t even realize that your world has been turned upside down.

Roller coasters provide a variety of ups, downs, twists and turns that we experience the thrill of just for fun.  The world of work, your business, my business, provides many of the same ups and downs and we need to be prepared for all of the same kinds of ups and downs as well as twists and turns in our daily lives.

Just be sure to not eat the wrong thing before a hectic day at work.  The experience may not be pleasant, just like you might feel when eating too much before going on a roller coaster.