The one certainty in life is that there is no certainty.
Just as we finally begin to emerge from the banking crisis of 2008 a new event has the potential to create extreme volatility. As Britain re-calibrates its relationship with the EU the fallout is very uncertain. It is very hard to see any upsides for the UK itself, though from Ireland’s standpoint it might be a case of “there falls no shadow where there shines no sun”.
Either way, individuals and businesses should be better able to withstand headwinds, should they come. This, of course, is to assume that we have learned lessons from the past.
So what are the lessons we should have learned?
The first lesson is never to put all your eggs into one basket.
In 2008 so much of our economy and our wealth was based on property. Once property values collapsed everything collapsed with them. Today, there is no single industry or sector in Ireland that commands such status and that is a very good thing. But we must be very careful not to allow some other sector (or indeed property again) to regain such a position. Variety is the spice of life – and the ability to be agile and to move and to adapt is critical in this changing world. Oversized industries cannot adapt in the way that we will need them to.
The second lesson is to learn to accept failure.
Even today, people and institutions still cling to the ghosts of the past – unable to accept that the money is gone. The good news is that we now have new laws to allow us undo past mistakes and with those new laws should come a new attitude. In life, there is failure just as there are storms. The key change in attitude is the realisation that storms are inevitable and that, just as they come, so too they will pass. This attitude is vital to our future prosperity.
The final lesson is to be prepared.
In 2008 we were grossly underprepared for what was to come. Today, if we are to learn anything from the past, we must be prepared. That does not mean being pessimistic but it does mean being realistic. It is incredible how, in 2008, so many Irish people were caught completely unawares. Asset protection was laughed at – for what could go wrong? It is important to plan for the rainy day and to assume that it may even be a very rainy day.
So to conclude – storms will come but they need not bring the house down if we adopt some old fashioned wisdom summed up in 3 wise sayings:
- Don’t put all your eggs into one basket
- Don’t cry over spilled milk
- Fail to prepare – prepare to fail
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