Alan Cohen on Cycles

Alan Cohen,
The Tide Always Comes Back In

A coaching client told me about a friend of hers who was freaking out because “the economy is never going to recover.” I suggested to her that her friend was suffering not from economic distress, but simple nearsightedness. Of course the economy is going to recover. Thinking that the economy will never return would be like standing on an ocean shore watching a wave break on the beach and anxiously exclaiming, “There will never be another wave!” There is always another wave, and the tide always comes back in.

Everything in the manifest universe functions in cycles. It’s all about frequency and vibration, crests and troughs. Economics is no exception. The economy goes up and it goes down. The stock market goes up and it goes down. Real estate goes up and it goes down. For every up there is a down and for every down there is an up. To believe that when it is up it will stay up and when it is down it will stay down is quite the short view.

People who recognize the wave nature of life are not disturbed when things change. Smart people do not resist or complain about change; they capitalize on it. In the 1970’s during the “gas shortage,” people were selling their big gas-guzzling cars and buying little economical ones. At that time I read a newspaper article about a fellow who was buying Cadillacs for ridiculously low prices because he expected that the time would come again when gas would be plentiful and there would be a demand for Cadillacs. Sure enough, the oil companies “found” more gas, the price of fuel plummeted, and the price of Cadillacs soared. The man was an entrepreneurial visionary.

(Translated to today’s market, we might say that a visionary would recognize there are other sources of energy besides oil, and place his or her chips on the tide of commerce flowing in that direction.)

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, lots of people were afraid to fly and travel, and the tourist industry suffered badly. Many tour agents threw up their hands and found other careers. In the spring of 2002 I read an article in a Hawaii newspaper about several tour agencies that were thriving. In the midst of the doldrums following September 11, they were planning trips for the following spring. They realized that at some point people would feel more confident and want to travel again, and these tour agents would be waiting for them and have trips for them. That’s exactly what happened. While the tide of tourism was out, they were preparing for its return. They were the only agencies thriving at that time.

One of my favorite models of vision in action is portrayed in the film, Tucker, the Man and His Dream, based on the true story of Preston Tucker. In 1947 Tucker developed an automobile many years ahead of its time, with a range of features that have since become standard equipment. Because his invention posed a threat to the auto manufacturers in power, Tucker was squashed and falsely accused of crimes. In the midst of his trial, Tucker doodled. When he was acquitted, Tucker showed his wife the sketches — schematic plans for a new kind of refrigerator with the potential to revolutionize the industry. Tucker wasted none of his precious time. Why bother with a trial when you can be creating things that will change the world?

I am also inspired by creative entertainers who see beyond appearances. Mel Torme, for example, wrote The Christmas Song (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”) in the month of June, when there was no Christmas, snow, fire, or chestnuts. Oscar Hammerstein, partner in the legendary musical team of Rogers and Hammerstein, composed his magnum opus, The Sound of Music, while he was dying. While his body was withering, his spirit was soaring. He was not distracted by the appearance of limitation. While one tide was going out, another was coming in.

An economic downturn, or recession, is an intrinsic piece of a greater progression. Abraham-Hicks notes that, “This economy is planting seeds of desire, intention, and invention that will make the economy stronger than it ever was.” Likewise, Native Americans would purposely burn down certain forests because the area needed cleansing, and the forest that grew back would be healthier. There is a wisdom in apparent destruction, which paves the way for ultimate construction. I once saw a sign posted at a road construction zone, “The inconvenience is temporary. The improvement is permanent.”

We are going through a period of temporary convenience. We can moan, complain, criticize, and blame, or we can take a breath and flow through it. Just keep watching the ocean, and you will find that the next wave is not far behind the last one.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including I Had it All the Time.