Volume 118: Professional Anxiety

Here we are! The summer of 2022. Let the good times roll.

To be accurate, I would say the good times have been rolling. For the last 5+ years or so, the Corrugated industry has been rolling along in pretty good shape. While the COVID pandemic had horrible consequences for much of the economy, our industry was deemed essential. As such, the corrugated market soared. Many companies in our space experienced record production and profit. It was not an easy market as labor was scarce, but money was cheap, and the industry flourished. But wait, that has not been the case for most of 2022, has it.

Most plants have seen a diminished demand for their packaging. Money has become much more expensive. Inflation has gone from “transitory” in January, to “holy crap” in July. The dreaded “R” word (recession) has settled into our collective minds. The stock market has shed a significant amount of its value. There is an ongoing war being fought in Europe, with the potential to escalate and migrate to other participants. Our country is as politically polarized as I have ever seen it, as a lack of trust in our federal government is being voiced from both sides of the aisle. The disagreements and arguments concerning global warming and the threat of new COVID variants are not going away either. AND my beloved Dallas Stars cannot make it out of the first round in the NHL playoffs. Have I missed anything, anything at all?

When I take a mental assessment of the external factors that both impact and influence my business, one word comes to mind, relax! Take a deep breath and exercise the control each of us has over our anxieties and emotions. To ignore the realities in front of your eyes would certainly be foolish. But that doesn’t mean these realities should overwhelm you or your goals.

As a point of reference, I’m sure many of you remember the collapse of the housing and stock market in late 2008. Perhaps you remember that crude oil peaked at around $147 a barrel in August 2008, before dropping to $27 a barrel the following year. Do you remember the unemployment rates? If you are like me, you remember the sleepless nights that winter. Those were some legitimately scary times for me, and I’m sure, for many of you. Do you remember what came after 2008??? 2009 came, and then 2010. We all tightened our belts, worked hard, and recovered. The stock market got a little better and then got a little better again. I remember cutting expenses at my company, and, along with my staff, working harder than ever on delivering value to the clients that still needed us. Looking back at that experience, I know it made me a better manager and a better person.

Remember that pressure and time turn coal into a diamond. You can turn your anxiety into motivation. Anxiety gets you out of bed early. It can be a great catalyst that provides clarity of vision. It can get you out of your comfort zone and allow you to try new things that you would never have tried otherwise. It can motivate you to humble yourself and ask for help. These troubling times can force you to exercise creative muscles you never knew you had. I am certainly not suggesting that you move forward fearlessly, BUT don’t be fearful either.

You, and your company, survived 2008. That was 14 years ago. You’re so much wiser and more capable now. You have developed a mindset that allows you to see a future full of opportunities and achievement. Lean into your goals, believe in yourself and your abilities, and maintain confidence that you’ve been through tough times in the past and will prosper through the tough times yet to come.

Stay Strong!

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