Nowadays this song regularly comes top of those best Christmas single ever polls. It is a story of optimism, dreams and disillusionment. A tale of new beginnings and sad endings. A song about emigrants to New York that mirrors the experience of business people everywhere.
Many business owners and managers use the Christmas period (we nearly used the word break but then remembered that for many of you it is anything but) as an opportunity for reflection. Thoughts drift to what has happened during the year and, either in anticipation of a budget that they are about to prepare or in preparation for a budget they are going to have to deliver, what needs to change.
Given the economic backdrop such reflection will be even more pertinent this year. Companies are quite correctly encouraged to analyse their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). However unless this is approached in an open and honest way it is of limited use.
It is often important to recognise where a business actually is in its SWOT. We are often reminded of the story of a lost hiker who asks a local how to get to his final destination only to hear the words “well I wouldn’t start from here”. The stark reality is that whatever journey you are on you always start from “here”.
There are many businesses who believe they “could have been someone” but for bad luck or unforeseen consequences or “the recession”. However a little self honesty often reveals the internal business reasons or the personal flaws that led to the current situation. Identifying these reasons is a key element of getting things right and moving on.
This does not have to be seen as a negative. Too many people let regrets about the past overshadow hopes for the future. Be honest, accept what has happened, keep positive and move on. However this does not mean that you should not learn from the past as our next song will demonstrate…..