I’ve always enjoyed reading, and I’ve become a better reader thanks to my book club. Armed with their encouragement and suggestions, I read a larger array of genres. I’ve also learned that I like to listen to audible books checked out through the library, a habit that recently led me to listen to Matthew McConaughey’s book, Greenlights.
It was okay, maybe even good. I listened to the book at normal speed the entire time, which is telling. That’s usually how I start an audiobook, but not how I end it. I either speed it up, wanting it to end soon or slow the tempo, wanting to bask in a text’s poetic beauty.
Still, let’s face it, it wasn’t a bad deal to have Matthew talk to me during drive time. Memoirs are not my favorite genre but I have found that I don’t get bored if it doesn’t follow a chronological order of the person’s life but tells stories centered around themes.
But the part of the book that sticks with me is when McConaughey shared this observation: “If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call ‘catching greenlights.’”
This idea of “catching greenlights” intrigued me. And I wondered, where in my life have I caught greenlights.
One answer: August 12, 2020.
Let me back up a bit.
As any small business owner knows, there are two options when it comes to workload: famine or feast. The former is one of those cyclical lulls when you’re concerned about where and when the next project is going to come. The latter is, oh my, we have work and how are we going to get it all done?
We have never overbooked ourselves, of course. But we have gone from very slow to very full quickly. In the end, it all balances out but we are at the mercy of the timing of our clients. Even if we have capacity 60 days from now, that doesn’t mean client A, B, or even C are ready. They might be ready to go in 90 days from now.
In 2020, the lull period was long. You know how work stopped and we thought it was just for a few weeks. And then it extended to another week and another? Businesses and organizations had to figure out how to get daily operations done. Employees worked from home and processes changed. Many of our clients were uncertain what the future held. They postponed important and meaningful projects while they wrestled with what needed to happen next. There were certainly no events being planned.
Like many other small business owners, we went from full schedules to thumb-twiddling in a matter of days. And I begin to wonder, like I have done many times before, will there be a new client, a new project?
Then came August 12. Not the week of August 12, but that single day, a Wednesday. That was the day that Reach Partners heard about four potential projects: a bright, solid greenlight.
In the end, two inquiries resulted in new contracts and one became a bigger project than we expected. There was one project that didn’t happen at all. Still, that date gave us a glimpse of hope and potential, reminders that we were going to move forward.
As I think about, there are times in my life – and in our business – where yellow lights and red lights also have proven valuable. When we take time to pause and stop, we can reflect on where we’re going – and why. Looking back, there are moments when a yellow light (or red light) were needed and welcomed. In the end, a pause made us reconsider our direction and gave us the energy and momentum to move forward.
As we move into a post-pandemic economy, I expect we’ll see more uncertainty. As we wrestle with how our work has changed – and not changed – I expect we’ll see yellow lights and red lights. And yet, I look forward to the journey . . . and more opportunities to look for greenlights.