04/10/2013 - 04:59

A little ray of sunshine

04/10/2013 - 04:59


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A little ray of sunshine

The decidedly wintery start to spring this year has got me yearning for a spot of sunshine.

It's an unfamiliar feeling for someone like me, with my pasty complexion and general phobia of all things solar, but it reminded me of a conversation with a colleague back in those parched, early weeks of winter.

Strolling back to work under one of those impossibly high Perth skies, I mumbled something to my work mate about 'another bone-dry winter'.

He was his usual upbeat self and glibly predicted the storm clouds would roll in – it was just a matter of time.

Turned out he was right; the rain did come to Perth, albeit in spring, and the jungle of weeds I call the front lawn has never looked so verdant.

And as the squally weather of the past week has well and truly shown, my concern about the lack of rain was in vain – no surprises there for the pessimists among us.

I don't set out to see the downside of everything, but admit I am gifted with a rare eye for the pitfalls.

I could never lead an army, or a business for that matter, because I'd be overwhelmed by the potential risks and frankly terrified of how my failings would affect individual employees.

I'm a small-picture specialist, focused on little details – although those 'what ifs' trip me up time and time again.

These are fine qualities for insurance or risk analysts and I wish my guidance counsellor at school had steered me towards one of these roles.

I could have been a contender.

Parenting experts claim mothers are highly skilled risk analysts and that children need the balance of that maternal angst with dad's more liberal, it-will-probably-never-happen approach.

I admit, becoming a parent hasn't done much for my glass-half-empty outlook, and now I have something new to fret about – passing these qualities on to my children.

If I had been born in China I could have hidden my fear mongering behind the socially acceptable veneer of superstition.

Australians who do a lot of business in China talk about the importance of building 'spiritual' connections with their Chinese counterparts.

And part of this is an appreciation of China's ancient traditions and superstitions.

Certain numbers are favoured in China for their apparently lucky connotations – including six and eight.

Number four is shunned because its pronunciation sounds similar to the Chinese word for death.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me, and for similar reasons I opted not to keep with family tradition and name my first-born son Dud.

The GFC and its fallout have surely tested the mettle and optimism of a lot of our business leaders, as well as their faith in the inevitable return of the good times.

The problem with broad, swift downturns such as the GFC is that they are never just one factor; it's a coalescence of a number of often seemingly unrelated issues.

While the clever ones who see these disasters coming are feted, the skill in business is identifying the opportunity, not the catastrophe.

And so it's always a delicate balance between harnessing the bold vision and an understanding of just how much you can risk before jeopardising the future of the entire operation.

I guess that's why smart, entrepreneurial leaders often seek out partnerships with accountants and sensible numbers-type people,

who have the courage and skill to point out the potential pitfalls.

My own appreciation of my skills set blossomed in my gloomy, adolescent years, at which time I was scathing of upbeat optimists.

I've mellowed over the years and on the doorstep of middle age find myself feeling deeply envious of positive people.

My pathology is most clearly on display during football season.

I'm that most anxious of fans who can't enjoy a game unless we're more than 50 points ahead; and even when we win convincingly, which has been quite a lot this season, my joy is tempered by concerns about who we face next week.

In some ways I find losing easier, and counter-intuitively it brings out the sunny-side-up-Pollyanna in me.

When things do go wrong, which they occasionally do, I'm the girl for the job.

You see, I knew this was going to happen and I can always find an upside to your downside.


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