From Dan Peña – "The Money Messiah" and Mentor/Coach for The New Millennium

Dear Friends and Subscribers,

It’s 4:00am at Guthrie and I’m watching CNN’s and BBC’s coverage of the US Presidential Election – and it’s quite a cultural difference! I don’t need to tell you what happened. Too close to call, etc., etc. The night and morning have been filled with a number of statements and predictions based on what was considered good information. Later this "good information" was called bad, based on a number of factors. (This letter is not going to comment on the election process.)

Sound familiar! It should! This is how life and business are every day, i.e., information – discussions – recriminations – new information – new decisions and actions! Hopefully better ones!

As I continue to listen, think and try to write this letter (at this hour), I’m reminded of my business career. More importantly, it verifies what I’ve told countless seminar attendees since May 1993 and have told business colleagues since 1970 and in the sixties as a young Army Officer, "Never underestimate how wrong you can be," and "Shit happens!"

This US election portrayed a number of pieces of conventional wisdom – again, I won’t specify or elaborate other than to say voter turn out is usually around 40 – 45%. This ranks the US about 140 out of 165 in the world. This US election appears to have about 50% voter turn out this time – not much of a different percentage, but a much different result.

People don’t vote because, among other things, they don’t believe their vote means anything. In fact, the people who live in the western US have said for years their votes don’t count because the westerners see the results as the polls close on the East Coast. This keeps many westerners away from the polls. I believe it did again vis-à-vis all the misinformation.

The bottom line is many, if not most, in the US believe in the Year 2000 – one vote, one single action, one act, one belief in a proposition can’t change anything and certainly can’t make a difference – politically! Unfortunately this thought process also prevails with most in business.

Irrespective of what happens, that notion may [and should] change forever – at least in political terms. One vote did count this time. In fact, it also counts in your business life! Remember one bold action always counts!

The reasons I feel like writing now – and, surprisingly, I’m not tired – are varied. This election result has been like almost ever person I’ve been involved with in business and life in general – not in Military life-and-death situations because there, giving up has dire consequences
If it were only that way in business! Success would increase quantumly! I guarantee it!!

In most instances, people take the easy way out (normally a less risky scenario) and/or give up too easily. The election results have gone back and forth all night, i.e., headlines: "Gore wins Florida"; "Florida now too close to call"; "Gore concedes"; "Bush wins Presidency – Not yet" and on and on! And now "Florida must Recount Votes!" I’m sure voter fraud will be next!

This week alone I’ve seen several situations where people gave up and/or took the easy way out. The problem in business, normally, is when an individual concedes defeat (as did Gore at one point) they can’t, or wont, go back and reverse their decision as Gore did. Just think if Gore does win!

Here’s an example of ‘Shit Happens’ even at the highest levels:

One of the senior executives I work closely with at an international multibillion-dollar power house had his life changed in the past few days. I had two late night conversations with him. I walked him through the various scenarios. I helped outline a game plan that would still benefit him, etc. He made decisions based on what was perceived to be as good information – after all it came from the CEO of Worldwide Operations. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be true! Shit happens! You see, friends, it’s not just you that suffer from the inconsistencies of business and life. This guy is very highly regarded and is being groomed to be the CEO!

One of the words constantly used to describe this election is "CLIFFHANGER". Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, let me give you some BIG news: "ALL THINGS IN BUSINESS ARE CLIFFHANGERS if you are going for the moon and play for big stakes," as I’ve often said. Ross Perot used to have a sign on his desk "Success is on the Razor’s Edge of Failure!" If it were easy to be a high performance, successful person, everyone would be one. Politicians seem to understand this better than most. Perhaps this is a bad commentary on life – I’m not here to address that subject. Most of you should already know how I feel about life anyway.

Winning in life isn’t easy but can become habit! I don’t know how many times I’ve said this and will continue to say this ad nauseam.

There are a number of analogies and sayings that come to mind. I particularly like one of Nietzsche – "Life always gets harder toward the summit – the cold increases, responsibility increases." This could be compared to a lot of business situations that are obvious.

A couple more from Churchill are also applicable: "Never give up except to convictions of honour," and "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire . . . give us the tools and we’ll finish the job."

In case you hadn’t heard, you have been given the tools – QLA! And, for a few of you, me personally through our business relationship. In recent years I’ve been described as "The Secret Weapon".

To Your Quantum Leap

P.S. A "US Today" poll taken a few weeks ago said 25% polled, 18 – 24-years-old, didn’t know the US presidential candidate; and 70% polled, 18 – 24-years-old, didn’t know the Vice President candidate. I wonder what the poll would say now?

P.P.S. It’s early in the morning, UK time. I stayed awake to 6:00am then went to sleep a little. I knew I was seeing history. I’m now up and the popular vote separates Gore – Bush by a total of less than 250,000 votes and Florida (the apparent swing state) now only separated by some 1,700 votes with about 2,000 absentee votes still to be counted. Too close to call!

Remember your dreams are within reach – but not assured, let alone guaranteed. Or as a wise Chinese Philosopher (unnamed) once said, "We have no divine right to survive; today’s rooster – tomorrow’s feather duster".

Feather dusters needn’t reply to QLA!