Belknap burst out that the army was in a very bad situation. Grant asked why he thought so, and Belknap replied that the rain had turned fields and roads into bottomless mud; movement was impossible, the enemy was only a short distance away, and if the Rebels should attack the army would be helpless.
”Young man,” said Grant, “don’t you know that the enemy is stuck in the mud, too?”
To this the abashed major could only reply: “No, I did not, General, but I do now.”
— Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South
I try to avoid military allusions, for all the obvious reasons, but this one’s been on my mind recently.
For most of the business owners I know, 2023 has been one of their worst years on record. Of course, that isn’t true of everyone, and everyone’s situation is different, but most entrepreneurs will agree that the economic situation right now is fully bad.
Everybody’s stuck in the mud.
And, when we’re feeling stuck, it’s easy to feel like everyone else must be doing better. But the mud is everywhere—it’s contextual, not individual.
The lesson isn’t to just accept it and lay down in said mud. It’s to remember that we’re all in it.
So be patient with yourself. With your business. With your colleagues and peers.
Everything takes more effort than it used to. Money doesn’t go as far as it once did.
If it’s true for you, it’s true for everyone.
So if going on LinkedIn is making you feel bad, reading everyone’s embellished or outright fabricated stories of massive success, that’s okay. Skip it.
If you’re sick of hearing that the economy’s made a soft landing when you can see with your own eyes it hasn’t, cut back on the news.
You can see the mud at your feet, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s raining—or to pretend that it isn’t.
So, focus on you and what you need to keep moving forward, muddy or not, and what you need to stay motivated to stay in it.
Nobody knows how long the mud will stick around, but you decide how long you’ll stick with it.
So protect your resources, like your enthusiasm, your motivation, and your time. The elements you need to keep going—muddy, but moving.
Whatever it takes, for as long as you can.