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Redefining Normal

December 14, 2010

Change AheadAmerica and the rest of the world have been through a roller coaster of changes over the last couple of years. I hear a lot of people, including myself, talking about how they wish things could get back to “normal.” That got me thinking, what is normal anyway? A dictionary definition for normal says “conforming with or constituting a norm or standard or level or type or social norm.” Hmmm, well that pretty much is wide open and relative. “Normal” for Americans is different from “normal” for Ethiopians, which is different from “normal” from the Chinese, which is different from…well, you get the idea.

What if the changes we’ve recently gone through (and are still going through) have redefined normal for America? What if we can’t count on house values to go up forever, or for low unemployment, or for our government to operate in the best interest of its citizens? What if this is the new normal…at least for now…at least until “normal” changes again. The good news in America is that whatever your situation is you still have opportunity. Where most people see the negatives and the hurdles in the current economy, the entrepreneurs see the silver lining in the clouds and the new markets to explore. Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, or just searching for a change, now might be the best time for you to take that risk and try that new venture, or that career change, or just expand your company into that new arena or service.

Visioneering Studios has had maybe its best year ever, and in a time when other architects are still laying off, we have hired more people and opened studios in Chicago and Charlotte to round out our current operations in Irvine, Denver, and Atlanta. In addition to that, while other contractors have been downsizing, Visioneering has expanded its design services to include design-build. We’re still just growing that segment, and it isn’t available everywhere…yet. It hasn’t been easy, but opportunities were out there, and we consciously sought them out instead of just sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to get back to normal first.

Are you ready to get off the sidelines too? If you are looking for some inspiring reading to get you going, check out Linchpin by Seth Godin and In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. Godin will challenge you to become the linchpin that your company can’t live without. He will encourage you to chase your dream and become the indispensable artist that every corporation counts on as their “rainmaker”.

As inspiring as Godin is, and I’m a big fan, ultimately the good “business” news about living in the land of opportunity, even during the time of the new “normal” in America, can’t compare to the great news of the gospel. Batterson will challenge you to take that leap of audacious faith and chase after the things that we often try to avoid:

Many of our prayers are misguided. We pray for an easy way out instead of the strength to make it through. We pray for no pain, when the result would be no gain…But if God answered our prayer [the way we wanted], it would rob us of our greatest opportunities…Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what he wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances.

Mark goes on to say in another chapter, “A dream becomes a reality one opportunity at a time. And if you work like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God, there is no telling what God can do in you and through you.” No matter how crazy things seem, and no matter how many times “normal” changes, there is always a place of refuge that remains the same. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If you are looking for some consistency in an inconsistent world, this is a good place to start.

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