Updated: Sep 3
Almost all vehicles nowadays use automatic transmission or auto shift. It makes driving easier as the car's machine does the gear shifts for you. Twenty years ago though manual shifts were the norm. It's important to know when to press down on the gas and how to slowly disengage the clutch.
The right timing in shifting gears allows the vehicle to move and prevent it from stalling.
A missed Kodak moment
I can't help but remember the story of Kodak when talking about the right timing when shifting. Kodak, beginning with George Eastman introducing dry plates for photography in 1878, was a trailblazer and leader in the camera and film photography business for more than 100 years. In fact, Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975.¹ A few years later they made a study to know how Kodak's current film business would stand against the looming digital photography. They saw that it could possibly replace Kodak's film business. The study also showed that they had a 10-year window of opportunity to prepare for it. Given their history of innovation, one would think they'd put all their resources, time, and energy to move towards the next big thing. The leadership however decided to continue to stay true to its roots, still camera and film photography, and put their efforts on improving that.²
Several years passed with a few failed investments and multiple CEO changes when the company finally decided to move towards digital photography. It was an action made too late in the game as Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012.³ Today, almost 30 years after it failed to shift, Kodak is still stalled and may never be able to move back ahead of the curve.
Know when to shift
Kodak had the right research team, resources, information, knowledge, experience, and time to make a successful shift in order to continue trailblazing in the camera and photography industry. Their CEO however refused to change which cost the company their reputation, status, and billions of dollars.
On a more personal level, it is likely we'll meet forks in the road at crucial times in our lives. We'll be faced with having to embrace change, shift gears or not do anything and remain where we are. Of course, it's important to get a sense of where you are at the moment.
Weigh your options. What are the pros and cons of staying or shifting? Understand the time you are in and the time that you have. Does the environment warrant a shift now or later? Will shifting now be greatly beneficial? Are there things that are holding you back from making the change? Take an honest look at your situation. I also know that asking people I trust and who love me enough to speak the truth helps me make a sound decision. If I'm able to, I ask people who are experts in the situation I'll be entering. Most of all, I go to my knees and ask the One who sees and knows all. Sometimes, in spite of all of that, and knowing that a shift is inevitable we still balk at doing it.
What usually prevents us from making a change is the fear of the unknown, making a mistake, and the reluctance to leave our comfort zones.
Why venture off into something or somewhere that you know nothing about and possibly fall flat on your face? Why leave something that is familiar and secure? I understand that. There is nothing more reassuring than the safety of the familiar. The thing though is we might be stalling on good things and possibly better opportunities. Yes, mistakes will be made and there may be a number of falls, but isn't life all about that - getting up, brushing off the dust, and moving again? Successful people and powerful companies became what they are because they took a risk and shifted at key moments in their lives.
There is a fork in the road in front of you. Will you stall or shift gears? The choice is yours.
¹Milestones. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.kodak.com/corp/aboutus/heritage/milestones/default.htm
²Mui, C. (2016, June 20). How Kodak Failed. Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2012/01/18/how-kodak-failed/#490da8e76f27
³Merced, M. J. (2012, January 19). Eastman Kodak Files for Bankruptcy. Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/eastman-kodak-files-for-bankruptcy/