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'Not adapting, not changing ... will leave you vulnerable'

As a seasoned business builder and business philosopher, each day, week, month and year that ticks away delivers discernable clarity of purpose and knowledge awareness, providing navigational tools for previously unchartered waters.

Exacerbated by the current human, economic, social, political and environmental circumstance, I have become much less certain about many things, and much more certain about a few things.

One thing I know for certain is the older I get, the more I realize just how little I know.  Those things I do know, I want to put to good use.  And those that I do not know, I want to explore.

Exploration of and exposure to countless business situations, transitions, difficulties, celebrations, failures and successes, has produced an eye for opportunity, a confidence in execution and a recognition that failure or lack of positive result is always a possibility.

It has also manufactured knowledge that the most painful failures were in fact the greatest victories, as they laid a foundation for personal and professional growth and expansion.  Put simply, they were the most valuable learning experiences and prepared me to make better and more informed decisions in the future, and most importantly, reduced risk of future failure.

These experiences also allowed me to delineate between well-thought-out calculated risk versus hopeful, overly optimistic and sometimes downright foolish risk.

Taking foolish risks, is well, foolish.

Experiencing and initiating calculated risks, is fun, exhilarating and fuels the internal human combustion system.

Not taking risks at all, not extending outside our comfort zone, leads to stagnation, fear, imprisonment and ultimately professional death.

Like no time in modern business history we are facing a work force paradigm shift of extraordinary proportion.  And here is the simple fact:  Embrace risk and change, or risk and change will embrace you.

Taking calculated, well-thought-out proactive risks, creating new learning experiences, developing enhanced skill sets, exploring new frontiers will be absolutely critical for every American (and global) worker and business that intends to flourish in the coming years and decades.

For those workers that may have enjoyed the false securities of "employment," or "having a job," forget it.  Whether you like it or not, you are your "own" business, and you should treat yourself as such.  The days of doing the same thing, the same way, for the same company, for extended periods of time, are like, last century.

Want security?  Invest in yourself and your collaborative resources. And it doesn't matter whether you are a business owner, a CEO, a division manager or simply the guy or gal that does the work.

You own your own business, and that business is you. And the risk we all run as business owners is an inability to change, transition and modify given market conditions, whether those conditions are insulated inside a company or exposed to global markets.

Not adapting, not changing, not investing, not learning and not preparing will leave you vulnerable and reacting to the next transition, phase or opportunity. Embracing the simple act of creation, evolution and knowledge accumulation will set you apart from the guy in the cube next to you or the gal running the competitive business down the street.

Investment comes in many forms, and this one type of investment, the investment in transition, growth and change, is one that none of us can afford to ignore.

Charles Darwin would take note in these ever-changing times, as this will be survival of the fittest, and those that stay fit will blossom, those that do not will likely wilt.

Investment also means knowing what part of yourself to invest in. Not everyone is going to have CPA-like financial skills, Bill Gates-like technical skills or Jack Welch leadership skills.  In those areas where you may not have a core competency, find ways through collaboration with others to mitigate that risk.

Bottom line, know where to get the resources you do not possess (business owners do this everyday).

Do not let fear of change monopolize your being. Let the ability and excitement of growth and expansion be the fundamental foundation of your life, both professionally and personally.

Two things I think we can all count on in this Earthly experience:  One, we will all encounter varying levels of suffering (tough to argue with that one right now); and two, things will change.  Are you ready for that change?  Will you be that change?

I am.

•••

Mark Nelson is the founder and principal of the Mark Nelson Group, a business advisory and consulting firm dedicated to "Building Businesses for a Better Tomorrow."   Formerly the president and chief operating officer of the Nelson Family of Companies (NFC), the largest independently owned staffing and human capital service firm in Northern California, Mr. Nelson built and grew businesses for NFC for more than 20 years.  Mr. Nelson can be reached at mark@themarknelsongroup.com.  Please visit his Web site at www.themarknelsongroup.com.