Creative Tenacity

Many years ago I went with a friend to visit his grandparents. They lived in a very remote area of West Virginia on a small ridge-top farm. As we sat on the porch drinking sweet tea, I heard a dog growling and barking nearby. The commotion went on for some time but my friend's grandparents ignored it so I thought it polite to do the same.

About half an hour later, a smallish Spitz came strolling around the corner of the farmhouse. The dog was white, but it was a little hard to tell because he was very muddy and disheveled.

He walked up onto the porch, went over to a bowl of water and drank for a couple of minutes. Then he went to one corner of the porch, laid down, and went to sleep. I couldn't resist asking if that was the dog that had been making so much noise.

"Yep," said my friend's grandmother. "He was down in the bottom of the garden fighting with the groundhog that's taken up living there. Been at it about three days now. Takes time off now and then to rest a spell and then goes right back at it."

"Why is he doing that?"

"To get the groundhog to move away from the garden. We don't want groundhogs around our vegetables, but we don't have the heart to kill the critters because they're kinda cute, so we let the dog aggravate them until they move on. Takes a while, but it works every time and the dog seems to enjoy having a steady job."

We would all do well to approach our jobs with that kind of tenacity and solve our problems that creatively. In these trying times there is nothing to be gained by running around and saying that the sky is falling.

As I note in my state of the industry article on page 24, printers seem to have two general reactions to today's economic situation. One is to hunker down and wait it out. The other is to do something about it. As President Franklin Roosevelt said during the Depression: "Above all, try something!"

Even in the worst of times there are opportunities to be had and those who recognize them will profit. The old story about the two market researchers sent independently to one of the poorest countries in the world by a large shoe manufacturer is instructive.

The first sent back the message: "No market here. Nobody wears shoes."

The second messaged: "Great market here. Nobody has shoes."

It's all in how you look at it.