Ask yourself: what have you recently blamed on someone or something else? What could you do differently if you own that interaction instead? Its a powerful tool.

In 2001, I was running a decent sized web development agency in Dubai. We had retained clients with several million in revenue p.a. and we were one of 3 “go to” companies at the time for the MENA region.

Life was good, if not great. Business was doing well and our first to market strategy was still paying dividends. We had to do very little sales and marketing as we were one of the known companies. Personally, my life outside of work was a parade of VIP clubs, gorgeous women … as far as the 23 year old me was concerned, things couldn’t have been better.

Then the horrific events of Sept 11 happened. I can still remember being on a call, trying to share a screen with someone in the UK when the whole country lost its internet connection (the UAE routed all traffic via satellite through New York at the time). We turned on the news and, like most people worldwide, stared in horror as the events unfolded.

Dubai became a ghost town overnight as its entire remit is to serve international trade and tourism … only 1% of Dubai’s economy is Oil based. Customer after customer either folded or went into long term hibernation & within 5 days our multi million dollar company couldn’t even make payroll.

I had to fire every single member of staff and then beg our landlord not to put me in jail for the rental cheques I had signed. I moved out of my villa by the sea and moved into a flat in the middle of the most tightly populated area in Western Dubai in order to survive. 3 months later I would find myself sleeping on my Grandparent’s couch wondering what went wrong.

It would be easy to isolate 9/11 for the company’s demise and, honestly, who would blame me if I did? Bigger companies than mine went under as a result of the tragic and seismic shift of that day. How was I supposed to know what would happen?

But, here’s the key. I still believe that our inability to survive was my fault and nothing will persuade me otherwise. I had no cash reserves, no money in the bank. No contingency plans of any sort. Our business had not diversified and we had no revenue streams outside of retainers from predominantly tourist based companies.

I tell you this story as its the most visceral way I have to illustrate a key mindset needed for executives and entrepreneurs to be successful:

Life either happens to you or because of you. You do not get to control the stimulus, but you do get to control how you react to it.

Ever successful businessman knows to look at what they could have done better or how they could have done things differently instead of blaming the stimulus itself.

Author

With a tech career that started before internet explorer was launched, I’m a technology focussed strategist with over 25 years at the forefront of technology disruption. Historically I’ve owned and managed agencies centred around Web and Mobile transformation helping B2B and B2C companies across the globe, from SME’s to Fortune 50.

Across the years I have been through 3 mass recessions and am putting the knowledge and experience of more difficult times to use to help businesses see what they have, what they need to succeed and how to bridge the two.