It’s hard for me to believe that it was approximately one year ago that I last played golf with my friend and our former CEO Bob Obray. It was a beautiful, sunny Friday morning in June 2022 when a few of us headed up north to Smithfield, Utah to represent Associated Food Stores in the Lee’s Cares annual ALS fundraiser and golf tournament. The golf that day was a blast, but the time spent with the company was even better. Tragically, approximately six weeks later, Bob was gone.
I think that one of the greatest challenges we face in life is the ability to adapt and change course when circumstances demand it. In the face of the unexpected or the unimaginable, it takes a special kind of courage to revise your vision about how things are ‘supposed’ to go. Foundational to this courage is an understanding of the importance of flexibility and a willingness to adapt. Or maybe to just let go and accept that things don’t always go to plan.
Boxer Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” What I like so much about this quote is that its application stretches far beyond boxing. It really has meaning in any area of life, whether the blow comes from a health challenge, a divorce, a bad investment, or even the death of a dear friend. Regardless of what it is, it’s how you react to the adversity that defines you, not the adversity itself.
When we set out on a journey, whether we are focused on a personal goal or tackling a massive undertaking like modernizing our Farr West distribution center, we often have a vision of how the journey will go. We envision the steps we need to take and the milestones we plan to achieve along the way. However, as we’ve learned firsthand, life doesn’t always unfold according to our most meticulously crafted plans. External factors beyond our control often intervene and throw us off course.
It is in these moments that having the courage to revise our vision is crucial. This kind of courage requires self-awareness, a little bit of humility, and a willingness to move beyond our initial vision. It’s not easy. Letting go of our attachment to a certain outcome or admitting that we need to modify or change direction is hard. Yet, the beauty of revising our vision lies in the opportunities it presents. By letting go of what was, we make room for what can be. We open ourselves up to different perspectives, alternative strategies, and innovative solutions. Revising our vision when the unexpected comes our way allows us to uncover hidden possibilities and find new paths to success.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison’s willingness to revise his approach countless times ultimately led to his groundbreaking invention. The courage to revise our vision is not an admission of failure, but rather a testament to our strength and adaptability. It reflects our ability to make the best of any situation.
This last year has been a challenging one for many reasons. However, I’ve been more than impressed by the resilience, teamwork, and adaptability displayed by our ONE AFS team. I’m filled with complete confidence that no matter the obstacle, we will have the courage to revise our vision and ultimately find a way to accomplish our goals as a team.