“Always look for the silver lining,” sings Chet Baker in an indefatigable tone, “whenever a cloud appears in the blue.” Sure, he can be cheery about it, but it’s actually a lot of work to find a shred of glistening optimism in a dark time. But, a little effort definitely proves rewarding, so maybe what our friend Chet is saying is that the process of looking for the silver lining is what cheers us up.
Let’s start by looking at a news tidbit reported in The New York Times in July: The Metropolitan Museum of Art recorded its highest number of visitors since 2001, totaling 5.2 million visitors in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Additionally, the Museum of Modern Art went even further and boasted its highest annual attendance ever at 3 million people. A look beneath the surface of this news proves these numbers aren’t just the result of unemployed masses killing time in the galleries—because admission to these museums is $20 per person.
People talk about “escapism” in tough economic times, but from the look of it, what they’re actually seeking is engagement and connection. Escapism happens at the movies, and certainly there’s a lot of that going on this summer. But these museum numbers seem to decry a desire for more information, as there is a discourse inherent in museums, and it is one enhanced by the technological advancements that our industry brings to equation.
So there, in that news we find a silver lining. But there’s more. The arts, and creativity in particular, are deeply intertwined with the entrepreneurial spirit of this country. The interest in creating something new from nothing is what drives businesses. So the next time you find yourself staring at a painting in your hotel room on a business trip, remember that the thought process of viewing that painting is also what got you there in the first place. You had to see opportunity where others saw nothing, and create a picture of an end product for your client.
Now take that feeling and sustain it. As Bob Prosen said in one of his sessions at the NSCA Business and Leadership Conference back in February, “You have to do what you’re doing now forever.” You are the survivors, he elaborated, so “when things get better, don’t let things slip—let this become your new standard of operations.”
The efficiencies you have in place now, the expectations you have for your team, and the creative spirit that keeps us all engaged can be the good things you take away from this time. That’s certainly a silver lining.