I have a confession to make. I love the shipping forecast. Its regimented list of information about visibility, wind speeds, rain and general outlook for all the sea areas around the UK has a wonderfully calming effect. I know where most of the names are and I mentally work clockwise round the coast imagining the weather in each area.
And I love all the names like Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon. They sound almost poetic as a list. It is like the names of the little stations on the Tattenham Corner line I used to get to school, a list I can still confidently rattle off 40 years later.
What has this to do with life? Well, it seemed to me that predicting business life is a lot like a shipping forecast. I’m talking to my clients about where their businesses are going in 2012, what they want to achieve, how to grow – or at the very least survive until the recession eases.
Take the forecast for Biscay today: Variable 4. Rough or very rough. Occasional rain. Moderate or good. It could be a pretty good description of 2012 for some businesses.
We need to learn not only to be fair weather sailors but to be capable of battening down the hatches, trimming sails and holding the course we set despite the weather. Guiding businesses through the economic storms will be equally skillful but for those that survive they will come out better and stronger for the future.