I’ve seen this before, we all have. Everyone seemingly frozen in place, immobilized by unfamiliar circumstances and captivated by the onslaught of endless news updates. I remember people scrambling for security. I’ve witnessed the false bravado and also the heads in the sand, the posturing and chest beating, and the cowering as well. Mostly I’ve encountered people just yearning for sure footing when they’ve felt the ground beneath them suddenly shifted.
I remember leaders making rash decisions with far-reaching consequences. Both good decisions and poor and destructive decisions that changed the lives of their citizens and workforce. Ill-conceived decisions that changed the economic landscape and altered the course of countless businesses and institutions. Some prospered. Many were forced to fold.
I look back on how parents reacted — what they shared with their kids, both with words and their demeanor. Some were calm and strong and helped their children make sense of the situation with wise words. Some panicked and hovered over their children, an understandable reaction in wanting to protect the ones we love the most.
I recall those who shouted "shop local" and I remember those who actually did. There were people that preached community involvement and volunteerism and those that selflessly committed their time to serve others in need.
I’m talking about the financial crisis of 2008 and superstorm Sandy in 2012. Two very different scenarios but with many commonalities.
I remember being impressed with leaders and parents that were even-keeled, cautious, deliberate with their words and actions, candid and sobering. The ones that didn’t shy away from speaking boldly yet respectfully. And there was something else they had in common, an innate quality about them that can't be taught. They remained calm in the face of diversity.
Throughout these trials, I’d like to think that I’ve learned some valuable lessons.
Listen mindfully to everyone and be respectful
Be transparent and keep everyone informed of facts
Be aware that not all news is correct, learn the difference between fact and opinion
Accept that not every idea is a good one
Not all bosses are true leaders
Be very clear when giving instructions
Debate in private and steer clear of social media soapboxing
Don’t try to solve problems outside of your scope
Acknowledge that every storm eventually passes
Don’t rush big decisions - and don’t drag your feet once you’ve made them
We have all endured tough times and will continue to do so. Let’s remember what we have lost, but also what we have learned. Let’s remind ourselves to breathe, stay focused on what’s important, and perhaps most importantly, let’s remain calm.