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08.13.10

Whatever Happens Is Normal

Leadership Nuggets

Prepared Mind of a Leader
One of the most valuable ideas I’ve ever discovered in terms of creating calm in the midst of a storm, and helping me keep my head when those about me are losing theirs, is the idea that whatever happens is normal. Not that whatever happens is always desirable or even acceptable, but that it’s almost always normal. A simple example of that would be having a flight canceled because of bad weather. Now this might wreck your schedule and cause you to have to completely rethink your plans, but, as a very, very frequent flyer, let me assure you that canceled flights are normal indeed.

Because I see canceled flights as normal, I don’t go into a tailspin when it happens. I know what to do to either find an alternate way of getting there or, at the very least, minimize, the damage that may come from not getting where I wanted to be at the anticipated time. All around me I see people, some of whom are obviously seasoned travelers, going into complete state of panic and anger over what is really a very common occurrence. I wonder if they just haven’t been paying attention for the past 20 years.

This idea that “whatever happens is normal” is what separates those who handle change effectively from those who go ballistic at the slightest deviation from what they had expected. We’ve all seen both types. On the one hand are the people who, if you tell them that there’s been a change in plans, policy, schedule, the menu, or virtually everything else, will quite completely lose it. They will either sink into a fuming funk or launch into a screaming rant. Either way, they don’t do well when the plans change.

The other end of the spectrum are the people who, regardless of what kind of changes you throw at them, seem to handle problems almost effortlessly. These people tend to be among the most valuable in an organization. The value of a person with the ability to perform well under pressure cannot be overestimated in a world where constant pressure is the norm.

Adapted from Becoming a Category of One by Joe Calloway.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:36 PM
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