When a door is closed

  • Business
  • Tuesday, 04 Nov 2014

IN THE past month I watched as life gradually slipped away from two dear ones.

One was my uncle, who had been ill for the past few months. When I last visited him at his home, he was bedridden and unable to speak and move, although conscious of his surroundings.

I witnessed the helplessness of this once strong and cheerful man and I could not but feel helpless myself. He passed away several days later.

The other dear one was a pet rabbit that had been with me for eight years. For a rabbit, eight years translate to about 80 in human. So he was old. My feisty pet had a huge personality and managed to make just about everyone who met him or heard about him love him immediately. To this small creature, life was all about being curious, learning, trying and never giving up. But while the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak, so he too gave way to illness.

Pardon me for such a sombre start to this column, but these recent events made me think about how everything has a beginning and an ending, an opening and a closing. For these two dear ones, it was the end but for others, at that very same time and in a different place, it was a beginning. Life ends and begins every moment of the day.

In business too, doors open for some and close for others every day.

Given the traffic conditions in the Klang Valley, we sometimes wish traffic lights would be green every time we come across one. As entrepreneurs and business owners, I know we wish everything is green-lighted all the way too. How good if it could be so. But reality can be grim and blunt.

I am sure some of you will agree with me that just when you think everything is going well in your business, an obstacle will suddenly appear.

Something will go wrong and you no longer enjoy that steady upward path or stability. It would seem that all doors are closed.

In business, closed doors can be losing a business deal, having to close a branch or an office because sales is poor or losing a significant client to a competitor.

It could also mean investors suddenly pulling the plug on funding and a business partnership turning sour.

Well, if only opportunities in life and business are like the automatic doors that open as soon as you approach. As business owners, we need to accept that is it normal to encounter closed doors. One cannot win all the time.

But good entrepreneurs are not deterred by closed doors and we always find a way. I like to use an analogy from Chapter One of Alice in Wonderland.

After Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she saw a row of doors. All of them were locked and when she finally found the key to open one, she found she was too large to go through the door. But in the end, she found a way.

My pet rabbit taught me a lesson about this too when he was alive.

He was allowed to roam free in the kitchen, but was barred from entering the storeroom. The storeroom’s door was shut at all times. Other rabbits would probably look at the closed door and see it as a deterrent to going any farther. Not so for my rabbit.

He discovered that if he pounded on the door long and hard enough with his paws, he would be able to push the door open slightly. After several attempts the door would be ajar.

This may sound unbelievable but the feat had been witnessed by many people. To him, it was sheer persistence and not giving up.

This tiny little creature taught me something: When a door is closed, it does not mean it is closed. Sometimes you just need to push a little harder.

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Business , Opinion , Starting Out column


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