Staying Optimistic in Times of Uncertainty: Lessons from the Henry S. Miller History Book

Henry S. Miller was founded in 1914. Over the course of more than a century, the company and its people have endured a plethora of losses and crises: two World Wars and the death of Lieutenant Jack Miller on December 4, 1942 in Guadalcanal; pandemics; one Great Depression and numerous recessions; an energy crisis; Black Monday; the untimely death of Vance C. Miller, Jr. in 1997 in a car accident at the age of 38; a dot-com bubble; a subprime mortgage crisis; and now with the coronavirus pandemic and recession the list continues. Despite these and other troubles, Henry S. Miller has survived and thrived.“My late father, Vance, used to say, ‘the night is darkest just before the dawn,’” says Henry S. Miller CEO & President Greg Miller. “He was an eternal optimist, and he not only taught me to never quit but to treat each day like it’s terrific, no mater how bleak! Sure enough, we kept our composure, persevered with optimism and emerged stronger than ever on the other side of all these crises.”
What’s the secret? Are there lessons to be learned? Greg Miller offers the following tips on how to remain optimistic during the COVID-19 crisis.

Stay Positive and Be Grateful

A positive attitude is a must. It influences you and all those around you. Of course, there will still be moments of worry, sadness or even anger, but you can’t wallow in those feelings. Keep a positive outlook and you’re more likely to see a positive outcome.

Focusing on what you have to be grateful for goes a long way toward helping you maintain a positive attitude. There’s so much to appreciate—family, friends, good health, faith, freedom, knowledge, memories and more. Gratitude nurtures the positive attitude needed to come through times of uncertainty.

Be Thoughtful and Helpful

The saying, “we’re all in this together” is heard a lot these days. A cliché, to be sure, but a true one nevertheless. In times of crisis, lending a helping hand to clients, colleagues, competitors and community is good for everyone.

When the opportunity arises, offer advice and guidance. Conversely, if you need support, don’t be afraid to ask. Let associates know that if they need to talk, your door (or Zoom) is open. When a competitor scores a win, be glad for their good fortune. Finally, if there is a service you can offer the community for the sake of kindness rather than remuneration, do it.

During World War II, the War Chest recognized my great-grandfather Henry S. Miller, Sr. for “invaluable services rendered.” The presentation was reported in The Dallas Morning Newson August 2, 1944:

“The resolution was adopted by War Chest directors as thanks for Miller’s realtor services in connection with the new Community Chest Center, handled without pay. [R.R.] Gilbert [president of the War Chest] praised Miller’s gratuitous real estate arrangements for the Red Cross, Family Bureau, Jewish Welfare Federation, and the Scottish Rite Crippled Children’s Hospital.”

Control What You Can, Ignore What You Can’t

You may have an opinion about the economy or the market, but you certainly can’t control them. Therefore, focus on what you can control, such as customer service. Now is a good time to double down on the valuable ways you can help your customers. Support them so they’re able to grow when the economy opens. In fact, this may be one of the best ways to ensure your company’s viability in the future. And speaking of the future…

Plan for the Future

… it will be here before we know it. During a crisis, it’s always hard to envision the long run. People naturally think of what they have to do here and now to stay afloat. Yes, that’s important, but so is thinking about how to position your business to be ready for success six months to a year down the road.

Know That Better Days Are Ahead

“And this, too, shall pass.” This simple phrase is rooted in stories from many traditions and cultures. It has been used on numerous occasions to reassure and encourage. Nothing lasts forever, whether good or bad. Like all crises before, this one is also temporary. Actively be an optimist. Better days are ahead.