Saturday, July 07, 2012

When It Rains On Your Parade

What do you do when life throws you a curve? Today was "Heritage Day" for our small community here near Georgian Bay. It was also the 140th Anniversary of the town - and we had thunderstorms. The event was cancelled due to bad weather and a meeting will be held to determine whether or not to reschedule.

I'm sure that the organizers of today's parade and all of the festivities are very disappointed; a lot of hard work was put into preparing for this day. It reminded me of times in my life when things just didn't go according to plan, times when I was reminded that I'm not in charge of the world and some things are just outside of my control. So, the question remains, what do you do when the unforeseen happens? This can be anything from an economic downturn, to a natural disaster, to an illness or a car accident.

I'm sure you may have your own list, but let's first look at what not to do.
  • Don't panic. I'm sure we've all encountered the "Chicken Little's" of this world who are convinced that whatever has just happened marks the beginning of the end of everything. They are the typical over-reactors, making the situation worse by adding their own anxiety to the mix. 
  • Don't blame. It's very easy to resort to the blame game when something goes wrong. "George was in charge of weather, it wasn't my fault!" The truth is, sometimes someone did mess up, but the time to deal with that is not when you're in the middle of a crisis.
  • Don't avoid. This is probably the most common mistake that people make. They freeze and find themselves unable to make a decision. You may be able to get away with this if the matter only concerns you, but usually there are others involved.
That's what you shouldn't do - here are some suggestions for what you should do. Feel free to send along your comment if you think of anything I've missed.
  • Stay calm. If you need to, get alone and take some deep breaths to clear your head. If you are the leader, people will be looking to you. If you are in a panic, everyone will be. If you're a believer, pray. Remember that while you may be surprised, God isn't.
  • Assess the situation. Information is power, so be sure that you have all of the information you need. Gather around you the people who can tell you what you need to know. What are your options? If you're a visual person, write them down. Consider the ramifications of each choice. As Zig Ziglar said: "Every choice you make has an end result."
  • Make a decision. At the end of the day, someone has to decide what to do. If you're the leader, that means you. While it is important to analyze the situation, sometimes we can get stuck in what is called the "paralysis of analysis." Weigh your options, consult those you trust, and make your decision.
  • Stand by your choice. It might not (likely will not) make everyone happy, but few choices do. When leaders make hard choices, they very quickly find out who their friends are - and who they aren't. Rightly or wrongly, it was your decision to make. Once you've made it, own it.
  • Learn from it. Be sure to go back and revisit this once the dust has settled. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? Could this have been avoided? Was this a result of bad planning? What could we have done differently? 
  • Maintain a positive attitude. This is a life choice. I read something by Charles Swindoll a long time ago that has stuck with me. I'll share it here with you as I conclude. May the sun shine on your next parade.   
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

"Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

"The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

"And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.
Related Articles:
Which Me Will You Be?
Are You Teachable?
More Life Lessons From A Fellow Traveler
Key Leadership Qualities - Adaptability
Seven Keys For A Better Life


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