Facing Problems

I’m back under the giant tepee at Tatton Park Flower Show, watching the rain come down. Fingers crossed it’s not going to stop people coming to the show today. We have been fortunate so far this year with minimal disruption caused by bad weather.

Last year we had several shows cancelled as a result of snow or heavy rain. It’s a nightmare for us as exhibitors, a big disappointment for visitors and a catastrophe for the event organisers. I’m reminded of a story I heard “on the showground” regarding the clothing brand Joules who started as a stall just like us.

In 2001 Joules was a relatively small business reliant on shows to generate their sales. That year was the summer of Foot and Mouth, which resulted in the horrific TV images of burning piles of cattle and the complete closing down of the countryside. Almost every show that summer was cancelled. Joules had containers of stock that were bought and paid for with no outlets to sell it.

As you can imagine, this could have been game over for the business. The company, however, decided to go into wholesale and set out to supply shops with the stock. Over that Summer, they contacted retailers and eventually sold all the stock and saved the company.

When 2002 rolled around, and the shows started again, they not only had their show business back but also a flourishing wholesale business with stockists all clamouring for the new season’s collection.

I love the way this story illustrates how often good things come out of bad. It’s easy to fall into the trap of panic and blame when something unexpected happens. But this won’t help you get through it, nor will it help you rise above it and move forward.

What is required is to keep a clear head and develop a simple plan. You can’t change what has happened, so step one is acceptance. From there you must look outwards for a solution. Ask yourself how others have tackled this problem before. It’s unlikely that your situation is unique. Someone else must have solved this before.

Identify possible courses of action and then discuss them with those whose opinion you trust. Develop a plan, and then once you have settled on a course of action, you must go for it. Put heart and soul into making your solution a reality.

It amazes me how often Justina and I realise a terrible experience has turned into a blessing and positively shaped our future. I believe you will find the same is true.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

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