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Lessons From The Mayans

14 years ago

18th August, 2009 00h00

OK because I´m part way through a round the world trip (The main reason for my lack of blog entries of late). this isn´t going to be the most business heavy blog entry you´ll read, but I felt it was worth sharing some thoughts and I hope you find it entertaining at least. I´m currently in Guatemala just now, having so far made it through Brasil and Costa Rica. The challenge for the coming week is to explore some Mayan ruins deep in the Guatemalan rainforest. Tikal was the easy and obvious choice but easy isn´t really my thing. So instead I´m headed off to search for El Mirador, the largest and least disturbed ruin of all. The Mayan civilisation is fascinating. They existed over a huge area stretching from mid Mexico all the way down to Honduras/Belize. It is striking to see how marked the difference is in the way Guatemalans look compared to Costa Ricans. In Costa Rica you could easily think you were in Spain. In Guatemala you are in no doubt that you are looking at a completely new people with a different lineage entirely. The language here is different as well. The Mayan dialects are spoken freely and Spanish is second choice for many. Dress is far more traditional, colours being symbolic of tribes and areas. Colourful is an excellent way to describe Guatemala actually. Both literally and in their customs. All in all it is an excellent country which I´d whole heartedly recommend you visit. But this isn´a travel blog (if you are remotely interested then you can read our travel blog with lots of photos at The point of rattling on about the Mayan civilisation is that for all its might, for all its vastness and complexity - save for a few ruins and cultural echos - "it" doesn´t exist anymore. A tragedy I´m certain and the reasons are hotly debated as to why. The foremost arguements are that a combination of routing by the Spanish conquistadors, followed by an even worse ravaging by the diseases they brought with them (small pox and others) caused the loss of up to 90% of the indigenous population. The consequnces of such devastation is the inevitable collpase of vital structures and processes required for a civilisation to function. So to the message from Guatemala and the Mayans. From being one of the earliest civilsations on Earth with a huge (seemingly stable) empire, to being a forgotten society happened in a dizzingly fast time. For the Mayans the Spanish were a `black swan´ moment. An occurence inconceivable at the time and low in probabibilty but with utterly devastating consequences. The question is are you resting on your laurels? For many the recession has been a black swan moment (Not really though as anyone with half a brain should have been able to see that the credit and housing bubbles would eventually burst). But what black swans are out there for the future? If you lost key staff what would happen? If your practice burned to the ground wahat would happen? If a competitor opened up and changed the way business worked in your location what would happen? If the Americans land with their big bucks and big business ways to ravage our UK way of doing business will our empire crumble? Working in a business can seem like a good way to spend your time. It is a trap many vets are stuck in. But working on your business (ie managing it) is a far better way to invest in your future success. Next management meeting you have, spend some time talking about and reviewing your crisis plans. And remember virtually anything could and probably will happen. The challenge of the modern veterinary practice is to be able to plan, learn and adapt. I´d call it evolving. The Mayans would probably have called it survival. Dave Nicol PS. As I´m abroad I´ve heard little news of all things vet so if anyone would be kind enough to fill me in I´d be very pleased to hear.

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