Making the Right Choices When Things Go Wrong

Manish Vakil

All our lives have been filled with unpredictability and chaos this last year as Covid, politics, protests, and natural disasters have permeated our individual and collective consciousnesses. In December, the World Bank reported that businesses worldwide have been affected, "with more than half either in arrears or likely to fall into arrears shortly." But it doesn't take a pandemic to cause unpredictability or chaos in a business. Manish Vakil, CEO of Tumbles, a fitness, education, and entertainment center for children, has been in the franchise business for 16 years—with nine Tumbles around the world. He anticipates adversity and believes that people should accept it with humility, patience, and even curiosity because, after all, the most difficult things also teach us the most important things.

Vakil has a five-point strategy for accepting the unexpected.

1. Don't Look Away
My team will attest that I always tell the truth. Every single time something bad happens or something not so positive happens, I never look at it as what's so bad, but what can we learn from this? Why did it happen? What can we do to prevent it from happening again? Placing blame doesn't solve anything. Finding solutions does.

2. Differentiate between a Crisis and an Inconvenience
We humans are programmed with a flight-or-fight response. It's part of our reptile brain, our atavistic past. But we have evolved beyond cave life and are not fighting lions but laws, regulations, and everyday annoyances. A shipping order held up at a Port in Doha is not a crisis; the detection of small-cell carcinoma is. We need to learn how to better breathe, regroup, and strategize when we are faced with inconveniences and not confuse them with real crises.

3. Be Realistic. Be Optimistic
Not all the news is good news. I hate to say it, but I lost a few franchisees last year because of Covid. But the thing is that you have to keep looking ahead. Yes, it's a loss, and frankly, it sucks, but that doesn't mean that the future has to. You constantly need to be looking at other pathways. If you don't, you will end up being stuck in the present, which soon becomes the past. The future always holds new opportunities—focus on the far light.

4. Understand That Dealing with Crisis Requires Strategy
One of our franchisees pushed us to open during the pandemic, and we kept telling him no. The lack of income from a new business ultimately affects our bottom line, but we knew this was not the right time for him. While we appreciated his enthusiasm for the business and our model, we also knew that if he opened in the midst of the pandemic, he would not do well. He wanted to open this month, in January, but we finally convinced him that July was a better time. More people are getting the vaccine, and more states are opening. You have to temper your enthusiasm with strategy.

5. Accept and Move On
Some inconveniences do become crises, and you need to learn how to recognize that. When we at Tumbles are faced with a problem, the first thing we do is assess the situation. What can we control, and what can we not control? If the latter requires too much energy, capital, or psychological strength, we just have to let it go. We have built a solid business and brand that we believe in, heart and soul. We deeply value our mission — fighting childhood obesity — and our partners. If we are not in alignment with like minds, it's time to move on.

For more information on Manish Vakil and Tumbles, go to the website.