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While out walking a couple of weeks ago, I was following an open path through magnificent shady woodlands that gently sloped down to the river Severn, near Beachley. The spring rain and the sunshine combined to create a warm smell reminiscent of a verdant greenhouse newly watered. The birds twittered in the trees encouraged me down to the water where the path followed the river. It was stunning. I felt at ease and enjoyed the progress I was making. I didn’t notice the cliffs rising to my left, blocking out a return, nor the river narrowing the path. Now, I found myself on a wet, slimy rocky outcrop that all too quickly left me nowhere to go. To reach my goal, I only had the option of turning around, retracing my steps and finding a different path.
In business, too, all too often companies make a series of small decisions. Enjoying the environment travelled in, and realising later that a wrong turn had been taken. A path that leads into trouble, not into better times. In business, though, the cliffs and water may not meet so dramatically, nor so obviously. One day products that sold well are struggling, services, once seen as valuable, are superseded by others. The ground, once lush and supportive, is slippy and dangerous.
Turning back, taking a different path, is hard, and it’s always better done too early than too late. That’s not about losing sight of goals; it’s all about reaching them.