A few days ago a friend of mine was busy making contingency plans about Brexit. While as a professional he like almost everyone expected Britain to remain within the European Union, (afterall it was the rational thing to do, it would be bad for the economy).
The markets were rattled and people were postponing decisions waiting to see how the Brexit results would pan out. It is human nature to postpone decisions in the face of perceived uncertainty.
Too often we see what we wish to see and our predictions are based on what we would like to happen not on what is.
Then Yesterday Brexit happened.
Some people are in denial, so far over 1.3m have asked for a new poll as they feel the vote was too close to call and so are clearly unhappy at the result of the poll. Who knows maybe the enormity of the challenge may result in any other vote.
EU referendum petition signed by more than 1.5m
A few years ago, everyone was in the middle of another crisis, the fundamental problems of Greece has crystallised into the Greek Debt Crisis. At that time Grexit because the wod on everyone’s lips.
We over rely on the view of experts…
Everyone talked about Greece exiting the Eurozone. Greenspan predicted their exit of the Eurozone.
(was Greenspan the architect of the whole financial crisis by facilitating cheap credit/deregulation of banks or did he just delay what was already a problem in the world economy – but that’s for another day). Greenspan himself admits he got it wrong and assumed that allowing banks to self regulate themselves was wrong.
Now I am not one to say I know what is going to happen to the UK next.
This was Greenspan’s view on the Brexit result.
“This is the worst period, I recall since I’ve been in public service,” Greenspan said on “Squawk on the Street.” “There’s nothing like it, including the crisis — remember October 19th, 1987, when the Dow went down by a record amount 23 percent? That I thought was the bottom of all potential problems. This has a corrosive effect that will not go away.”
The experts were wrong, (experts are as prone to group thinking and a whole host of cognitive biases) the polls were wrong, the rational British electorate did the opposite. The exit polls said 52/48 remain and then the opposite happened.
We had all expected if a country would exit would be because it was weak and would leave, however the British economy is “relatively” strong (house prices, employment, inflation etc) depending on what measures you would care to look at. everyone would lose as house prices would fall, the currency would plummet. it would be doom and gloom if Brexit happened.
The world is fundamentally more different than we can imagine, All the best laid plans of mice and men crystallise into something quite different and unexpected.
Careers don’t always follow a rational path or plan.
All the leading polls got it wrong about Brexit, even the exit polls predicted. As the saying goes, luck favours the prepared mind, ie you see the opportunities if you have a positive outlook.
Now anyone who knows me, knows I am into planning, however the purpose of planning is direction and prep, not always about being able to predict everything. A little bit of planning does go a long way…
We start with plans, but then actions may be needed to respond to the situation in the heat of the battle and the plan is either changed or omitted.
What Brexit shows is that we make decisions based on emotions, not rationale. We make decisions and choices and then rationalise them afterwards.
Politicians who seek power know that they should sell to the emotions of the public. In that respect Boris made it an issue about identity and hit the issue of what being British in a multicultural society spot on.
Why is a way of rationalising but sometimes we just have to accept things as they are and go with the flow.
Once we accept that things don’t always happen as we plan, it will help reduce stress and anxiety and allow us to move forward.
Wanting does not always make it so. While we are all goal driven creatures and like to make plans about our futures, life can be unpredictable. Being able to take it in its stride is fundamental to being resilient.
So do you see Brexit as a threat or an opportunity to you ? Do you fear it or welcome it now that the people have decided.
It is surprising how easy it is to get on, one you have made a decision, or accept that a decision has been made and you accept it.
We are where we are, I must admit Cameron has being prompt in accepting the situation and moving forward.
One thing is for sure, we live in interesting times and it will be interesting to see how the “world” economy will fare post Brexit.
This will keep the consultancies, and professional firms busy drafting new regulations and systems, who knows this could be the equivalent of a Japanese capital spending programme or when the UK last went through its privatisation programme.