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Blog art croppedBy Jim McCloskey

Before I write my end-of-year blogs, it’s generally been my habit to take a look at my last year-ending thoughts to get a sense of how on (or off) target I was and figure out what I need to do to refine my prognostications for the current version. For the most part, I usually don’t find anything dramatic, but this year was  different.

The opening statements last December were valid and on target, I have to say – although I certainly didn’t anticipate selling to Watershape University! – but the last section, the one that appeared below the three asterisks? I cringed when I read the first paragraph.

Here’s how I put it in December 2018:

I write all this [in the face of] inklings that 2019 will bring some degree of retrenchment to the general economy. With increased market volatility, rising costs, shallower labor pools and general consumer wariness a concern as 2018 ends, it may be that some adjustments are necessary.

I felt better almost immediately, however, when I read the next two paragraphs:

I see nothing on the horizon beyond an ordinary sort of correction – and certainly nothing approaching the gulf that commerce fell into back in 2008 and 2009. It’s almost as though we collectively feel guilty about a long run of recovery and prosperity and need to rumple things up a bit to atone for our exuberance.

It’s all speculation, of course, but what I know for a fact is that the watershapers in my acquaintance today are much better prepared to deal with what may come tomorrow than any of us were in 2008. This is why I have great confidence that the year to come will be another fine one, particularly for those who keep focusing on professional education and development – and on being and doing better, both personally and professionally.

Even though my up-front guesswork was basically wrong a year ago, it occurs to me that it’s never a bad idea to be reasonably cautious as a New Year opens. As I also suggested in the two lower paragraphs, watershapers and watershaping have found higher ground in the past ten years and now enter every New Year capable of weathering even substantial economic storms in a style and with a substance I would never have imagined when I started working in the aquatic industry back in 1986.

The general watershaping community wasn’t ready in 2008 and there was considerable suffering, but many watershapers I know came through the Great Recession in positions of strength because they were more in control of their missions and destinies than were many of their colleagues. And those same watershapers and the industry as a whole are in even stronger positions now, as 2019 becomes 2020, than they have ever been because they have worked harder and smarter and have focused their efforts on quality, excellence and beauty while also refining their operations, focusing on strengths and expanding prudently while avoiding the expansive tendencies that bloated and overwhelmed too many companies a decade ago.

Nevertheless and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I again foresee some sort of correction coming our way in 2020: All of the factors I mentioned as contributing to my concern are still there and still capable of causing major disruptions in the economy (not to mention the fact that it’s an election year).

On the plus side, I have every confidence watershapers and watershaping will be ready to weather a bit of adversity, however nasty it gets, and will enter and move through 2020 ready to meet whatever challenges may arise.

I concluded my 2018 year-ending blog with simple toast and repeat it here:

To one and all, keep your eyes open for the opportunities that change always brings – and stay focused with me, as always, on a happy, prosperous New Year to come!

Worthy before. Still worthy now.

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