Journey 53450860 61dc8ba1d4857

Leaders Must Be Flexible and Focus on the Journey

Jan. 10, 2022
With so many variables in 2022, it's important to be able to pivot while continuing to pursue committed goals.

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Did you resolve to have a dry January and a friend already asked you out for a drink? Did you resolve to eat right and exercise every day and then got sick and could not? Every year we start out with the best intentions, but sometimes life just gets in our way. It is mid-January, and my goal for the year is already having to be modified as well. Let me tell you the story.

Covid strikes again. In 2020, I was accepted into Stanford University’s Mergers and Acquisitions course. It was to be held in person in July 2020 but was canceled entirely due to Covid. It was very important for me to attend in person, so I researched all the universities with executive education M&A programs in October 2021. Wharton accepted me into their course set for January 2022. On January 5, just 11 days before the course began, it was canceled because of the Omicron variant.

How frustrating, aggravating and disheartening is it when life sends you off course for meeting your goal? Don’t get discouraged. Know that even the small steps are improvements. Think of it this way; you are not going to go from being a couch potato to running a marathon overnight. You have all year to accomplish your goal, so do not give up in January. Learn to pivot, remain positive and remain consistent in your pursuit to a committed goal.

My goal has always been to help others by sharing my knowledge and experiences. Taking the mergers and acquisitions course was going to be another tool in my toolbelt as I continue to grow Onex Inc. and help other likeminded leaders. I wanted to learn all I could from others about the acquisition process so that we would have a higher success rate than just winging it and learning on the fly. Even though the class will be delayed a few months, I am on my way to accomplishing my goal.

The Good

Wharton sent all our pre-work materials right before the holidays. I excitedly read the case studies of some incredible companies and their acquisition processes. Before, the version of acquisitions in my head was a company buying a target company and then stripping the target of assets, selling it again in a few short years. What I learned is this is not always the case.

There were several studies about companies who partnered with their acquisition targets. The acquiring company helped the target company go from good to great. The combined management teams made decisions for long-term growth and rather than short-term gains. My heart was filled knowing that there is a different way to acquire companies than the story I was telling myself.

The Better

One thing I did not realize at a young age was how important a network is. In the last few years of my career, I have worked to expand my network. The thought is that everyone has different histories and perspectives that I can learn from.

The best part of being a part of the Wharton cohort is that I was given a list of attendees. I reached out to as many as I could prior to class and have been blessed to have conversations with individuals in Switzerland and Guatemala. I have even connected with an individual who knows about refractory and heat treat furnaces (similar to what my company manufactures) … what a small world! The attendees come from many different countries and many different businesses, giving me many different perspectives as I continue my learning journey.

The Best

Where do I go from here? An executive coach once told me, “You can have everything you want. You just may not be able to have everything at one time.” Therefore, I will stay positive, knowing that while this portion of my learning agenda continues not to work out in the timeframe I expected, my goal remains the same. I want to help other businesses survive, thrive and flourish. I will continue to say “yes” to the right opportunities because life is full of twists and turns. This is just a minor bump in the road.

Is your New Year’s goal off course already? How are you handling the situation? I hope you will remember to take a positive approach to the situation and remain consistent and committed to the pursuit of your goal. Happy New Year!

Ashleigh Walters is president of Onex and author of Leading with Grit and Grace

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