Ouch! … That hurt!

May 26, 2009

I’m sitting here with my knee up after last week’s arthroscopic surgery.  (Gosh, I hope I spelled that right … you’d think that if I had it I’d at least know how to spell it!)  Anyway, don’t worry; this article is not about my maladies or whining about the recovery process.  It is, instead, a short opportunity to observe some easy parallels and associations between recovery processes.  (I dare you to read on … it may not be as boring as you think!)

1) The actual cause of my malady, years of abuse and excess wear on my knees from sports, exercise and being on the “never slender” side took its toll over time.  It was insidious, and snuck up on me.  Sure, there were plenty of warning signs and even several admonitions from experts who warned against the excesses.  But I have always been pretty healthy and was confident that I could overcome or endure just about any hardship.  So too was the degradation of the U.S. economy.   There were warning signs and warnings from experts and talking heads alike.  But we as a nation partied on as if there was no day of reckoning.  Nevertheless, the damage was being done … quietly … insidiously.

2) Last Friday I chose to be asleep while the most painful part of the correction took place.  Except for the humiliating backless surgical gown (not a pretty sight) and the intravenous line that Nurse Tutti Fettaganuchi started pre-op, the artful work of Dr. Daniel Kharazzi could have gone unnoticed, were it not for the giant bandage around my now pretty swollen knee.  Kharazzi must be good because I hobbled out of the surgicenter pretty much on my own.  I’m still not quite sure what he did in there.  He didn’t even know what he was going to do until he got in there and actually saw and understood what the situation was.  Remember back to the beginnings of TARP?  Bailout or bad asset buy-up?  Treasury changed its collective mind mid-stream.  The point here is that we don’t quite know or understand what the remedy is that is being applied; and at times neither do those doing the work until they get there.  Some of us who abhor pain or falter at the sight of our own blood even choose to sleep through the event, trusting that the appropriate corrective measures are being initiated.

3) I will learn more and see the Dr. K’s handiwork next Tuesday at my post-op appointment.  Until then, I trust that the right work was done.  And if he got it approximately right, the rest of the work is up to me.  Recovery now involves balance; keeping the insulted joint from swelling out of control using simple cooling techniques while gradually introducing mobility and eventually rebuilding strength.  (It also involves a fair amount of whining on my part.)  I must choose when, how much, and how hard to apply the cooling, the mobility and the strength exercises.  The result will have a significant influence on the nature and quality of my life, both short and long term.  Likewise, on both a micro and a macro level, economic recovery is a function of the steps that are taken individually and collectively.  I can control what steps I take, and be aware of the macro movement that occurs around me and its direction.

        ** MacroNotes

  • Last week California failed to pass remedies put forth by Sacramento to address the $21 billion shortfall in the budget.  The Governor announced his intention to layoff at least 5,000 state education workers.
  • Last week Chrysler announced the inevitable, ordering the shutdown of 789 dealers across the nation.  GM could follow with a similar order for as many as 2600 dealers.  By the time this is over nearly 20% of the nation’s auto dealers could be out of business.  According to the dealers association (NADA), these two moves alone could add 150-188,000 to the unemployment rolls.
  • Banks are about to receive (may already have) an incentive to allow borrowers to sell their home at a loss rather than go through foreclosure.  Under the plan, the U.S. taxpayers will yet again mitigate the loss that the bank will experience by sharing the cost.
  • Though the drop in housing prices seems to be slowing, and Joe Consumer is beginning to open his pocketbook (probably with an accompanying uptick in consumer sentiment), we are reminded that we have just endured a period of the worst capital spending record for businesses since 1930.  The third leg of the stool, corporate spending is down 35-40%.  Businesses don’t make decisions to shell out dough based simply on “cautious optimism.”  It will take more … much more; and without a return of the corporate spending early recovery attempts may serve to simply suck in unwary investors seeing a false bottom.  Beware!  

4) Recovery will take time.  I can have a significant effect on how I come out of this based on my awareness, my decisions, my actions and my timing.  However, I also recognize that some things that are beyond my control and what goes on in the environment around me plays a big role in where I ultimately end up.  I will do my best to avoid missteps and lousy decisions.  But I will not allow myself to be inactive or a passive participant. 

Now, I must think about my next move … cool it down or light it up?  For me, I think cool it down and reflect a bit makes sense for the moment.

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com


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