Main photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Recently one of the famous top-managers in Russia said: “This is not a crisis, guys – this is a different reality.” That’s, probably, true. And, unlike the typical Russian crisis, when you just want to press deeper into your office chair, plunge your head into your shoulders and just ride it out until the next “fat” times return, the current reality rather provokes us to activity. Bold, sometimes desperate, but–activity. And this time it’s not just in favor of market conditions, but in spite of them.
A couple of years ago, the employment website Job.ru conducted a survey among about 1,000 Russians to find out what they consider success. Self-realization in a favorite business or work was mentioned as a crucial criterion of success by more than a quarter of respondents. For comparison, less than 15% highlighted career and social status, and just 8.7% gave their preference to wealth.
In parallel with the question “What is your success?” I would ask the respondents whether they consider themselves successful. I bet that exactly that quarter of respondents that identified self-realization in a favorite business as a criterion of success, sags on this point. The same with those who raised wealth, social status, etc. in the first line.
Russia is the region of eternal frustration. Achieving success in one area of life, we depreciate the value of these achievements, focusing on failures in other spheres, and thus, do not give ourselves the right to recognize our own progress.
It’s like: well, I have a successful business, money and respect… but the thing is that I always dreamed of being a musician!
I think the current crisis, or rather, our new reality, is breaking the national habit to frustrate, right now, while you read this post. I think that thanks to this new reality, we begin to strive toward things that we genuinely define as success, and become finally ready to be proud of it. In the words of Ukrainian épater les bourgeois journalist and art critic Anatoly Ulyanov, the crisis is a muse.
In an interview with Moskvaer, a similar opinion was expressed by an expert of unique careers and the Executive Director of the Futuremakers company, Xenia Kashirina.
“Precisely in terms of the strongest measurements in the world, many people are beginning to feel their potential, and intuitively look for opportunities to discover and implement them,” she says. “Many young entrepreneurs are not amenable to the overall panic over the crisis. On the contrary, they see it as an opportunity to find a new niche, to implement innovations and to enter the international market. In short, this is an extra incentive for both professionals and businesses to think more about their individuality and the monetization of it.”
According to my own observations, the other powerful trigger that occurs on a wave of a crisis is the familiar feeling of “now or never”. In a period of profound shit, people tend to take risks, because it seems that a) in general, there is nothing to lose and b) it can be worse still–so now, or never.
“We opened in August 2015, when everything was already ‘not ok’, but we thought, ‘Well, what to do? Anyway we must do something even in crisis'”- says co-founder of the “Chekhov café-bakery” in Zvenigorod, Alexander Fedorchuk. – “There was an idea, and I wanted to implement it. My mind said: ‘No, dude, it’s a crisis, just transfer your savings in dollars and don’t rock the boat!’ But emotionally it’s very hard to keep calm and do nothing, so you risk in spite of everything. A peculiar role is played by the factor of when you think that it may be even worse in the future, and if you won’t do it now, then you might not ever do it.”
– Now, after almost half a year, you probably had time to fully feel the impact of the crisis on your business. Don’t you regret starting it all in bad times, and not having waited?
– It’s hard to say for sure, because it was an interesting experience anyway. In addition, it is difficult to separate the problems that occurred because of the crisis from those that were provoked by my own mistakes. But I can say with confidence: the crisis didn’t help us at all! Neither did anti-sanctions, neither did devaluation of the ruble, neither did falling incomes, and finally, not eggplants for 500 rubles. I believe that the crisis is not a muse, but an obstacle to our dreams. Especially this particular crisis.
Denis Sushchenko, philologist and copywriter, just let big changes happen in his life in the midst of the economic collapse.
At the beginning of the crisis, he worked in the largest technology corporation, and “everything was fine”. In the midst of the collapse, when the dollar had struck the mark of 70 rubles, he left the team for “free bread freelancing”.
– Just because it was time to move on. I am sure that in a career and in life in general, it is important to have a strategy, and the steps that you make, should be performed as part of this strategy. This means a conscious approach to life. The crisis is just one of the unpleasant external factors, something like off-road obstacles that need to be overcome. Once, during a motorcycle trip through Thailand, at nightfall Google Maps lead me to the wild jungle. The trail descended into a steep ravine, then raised back, several times in a row. At the beginning of the path I had gone down a couple of very steep hills, so I could not just get back easily. The only way out was through. This is what the crisis is. You just have to move on, making adjustments along the way, but at the same time not deviating from the path.
– What is important when deciding to go for changes in the turbulence?
– It is important to keep a stable mind and to not panic. The information field is glowing, people are inflated, the media is chasing ratings, poverty is growing, media reports several times a week on overcoming the psychological marks and on a return to the 90s… All the news, analyses and opinion can easily tighten you, and if they will not knock you down, then at least they will waste a lot of your time and effort. One must clearly understand what exact information is needed and to what extent it is important. So one should not take more of it than needed.
– Are you satisfied with your decision?
– Yes, quite satisfied. I now have more free time, the volume of work has decreased, and the revenue (in rubles ) has risen.