The newest thing about the new economy? The notion of tough times and economic failure. It's something that many business leaders have either forgotten about or never experienced. What's the best strategy for making it through a bad patch?

WARREN BENNIS
Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Founding chairman of the Leadership Institute
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California


I've been alive for 76 years, and I think this is a damn good time to be on this earth. The Internet Age has presented us with a marve-lous opportunity: We're starting out fresh, having to learn the ropes
together. What we're seeing now are little setbacks. And if there's one thing that the older generation understands well, it's that there are things called "cycles." And cycles teach you patience.

I don't want to make it sound easy, because it can be heartbreaking to have to fire people. Nevertheless, running a business today is as terrific an education as a young person can get. In a bumpy economy, you learn quickly to make courageous choices.

If you're a leader, probably the biggest mistake you can make during any kind of downturn is to choke up. Remember the Flying Wallendas? Karl, the patriarch of the Wallenda family, fell 120 feet to his death while trying to walk a tightwire between two office buildings. Later, his wife said that before the stunt, Karl had seemed concerned about falling. He fell because he was focused on not falling, rather than on getting to the other side.

In tough times, remember Karl Wallenda. When you concentrate on not losing, rather than on winning, you'll find yourself dead on the ground.

SHEILA WELLINGTON
President, Catalyst
New York, New York