How are you weathering the storm?
As a result of the relentless barrage of grim economic news in recent weeks, there’s been a lot of debate about whether we’re headed for a reprise of the Great Depression.
While economists have bristled at the suggestion, I think that we are in the midst of a great depression of sorts. But I’m not talking about the economy here. I think many of us are just flat-out depressed.
Paying attention to the news — whether we’re watching it at home, listening to it in the car or surfing for it at work (all of the above for me) — has become a masochistic daily habit, with the buzz about bailouts and bear markets dominating the media landscape. Add a presidential election to the mix, and we have a toxic brew of bad news, blame and broadsides. (Oh, and did I mention the now-infamous $440,000 spa retreat that executives from a certain insurance firm took just days after the American taxpayer wrote an $85 billion check to save them from bankruptcy? Don’t get me started.)
All of this seems to add up to a perfect storm of negativity, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid.
Understandably, I think many of us are feeling a little depressed about our futures. I know I am.
This is the point in the discussion when politicians and do-gooders invariably start talking about Americans’ “can-do spirit,” and about how we’ve survived tough patches in the past and we’ll survive this one. While I tend to believe all of that, I have to admit that I don’t want to hear it right now. Like so many of us, I want answers, solutions and resolutions to the country’s problems — not platitudes.
You, as procurement professionals, are part of the solution during times of crisis.
In Michael Keating’s cover story, “Weathering the storm” (P. 20), you’ll read some inspiring examples of how procurement professionals prepare for and respond to crises, and you’ll be reminded of how strong this profession can be in times of adversity.
With floodwaters climbing the stairwell of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) City Hall this past summer, members of the Purchasing Department had the foresight to move most of their files to a higher floor.
Meanwhile, the city’s Fleet Services Division saved more than 800 of its 900 vehicles and mobile equipment from being claimed by the flood.
In Tucson, Ariz., the city is taking proactive steps to handle the next disaster — whatever that may be — by way of a global emergency management plan. Deputy Director of Procurement Marcheta Gillespie explained how the Procurement Department is taking part in tabletop exercises to put the plan through its paces.
In the opinion of David Gragan, chief procurement officer for the District of Columbia, planning ahead is the key to surviving a disaster. He summed it up best when he said: “Today’s the day I need to be thinking about that next hurricane, since today’s the day I have the luxury of not having to respond to a crisis.”
Can that type of logic be applied to the current economic crisis? Perhaps. If lawmakers, lenders and financial services firms years ago had thought about the possible long-term implications of their policies and actions — rather than thinking about how to manipulate the system to make a buck — we might not be in the mess that we are in today. I’m sure it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it’s hard not to question the lack of foresight.
I don’t claim to have all of the answers. However, if you’re feeling a little down, I’d like to offer a few suggestions to lift your spirits.
- Count your blessings
If you’re taking the time to read this, I’m guessing you’re still breathing. I promised not to promulgate any platitudes, but it’s hard to resist this one: Every day above ground is a good day. And there is so much in our lives — our families, friends and pets to name a few — that we take for granted. Spend time with your dog (or cat) when you’re done reading this. Thank him (or her) for being so friendly, funny and furry.
- Take pride in your profession
Every day, through good times and disasters, public-sector purchasers are on the front lines, working hard to provide best value for their customer agencies and taxpayers. Know that your colleagues across the country are dealing with tight budgets and rising fuel prices just like you. Keep fighting the good fight, because it’s worth fighting.
- Lose yourself
All of us have a hobby that transports us from the daily grind. For some people, a trip to their favorite fishing hole is just what the doctor ordered. For others, it’s knitting a sweater. Whether your passion is a good book, model trains, music or Civil War re-enactments, turn off the TV, the computer and the BlackBerry and tune out for a bit.
As always, don’t be a stranger. Let us know about the ways that you, your department or your colleagues are weathering all of the storms that life presents us.
Josh Cable is the editor of Go Pro as well as its sister publication, Government Product News.