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Living in the Philippines, where we experience typhoons, I almost named this article, Taming the Typhoon. … In the end, “tempest” seemed more earthy, older, of ancient times, and more “electric.” Almost as it if the tempest itself were alive! Either way, this is a short article on how to deal with the challenges we face in our lives. Challenges will come, of that I’m certain. At work. At home. At play. In the physical world, storms come so regularly that there are “seasons.” Just like Major League Baseball or English Premier League futbol, these seasonal storms are part of our life and some weather fans, eagerly anticipate hurricane season as eagerly as futbol fans the world over anticipate the EPL season.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about tempests more than usual. Why? Maybe because I’m in the middle of a tempest. Maybe because I’m sharing some “change leadership” best practices at a leadership conference in a couple weeks. Maybe because I know that we’re either in a tempest or about to face one. You and me both. We’re either in the season, the post-season or the off season. And just like the physical storms that prowl the earth, the figurative storms we face are routine. They may not follow a pre-defined schedule, but they’re either here or they’re coming.
So the trick then is not to despair. You can’t hide from the tempest and you can’t prevent it from coming (ok, sometimes you’re the creator of a tempest because of wrong decisions and dysfunctional behavior, but that’s another article). However, you can learn (from others and yourself) how to better stay afloat during the tempest, navigate the stormy weather, and successfully reach your destination with your crew, passengers, and cargo intact.
What I want to share with you are a few tips, a few ideas, and a few suggestions, that will help you Tame the Tempest. A couple caveats upfront. This is not an exhaustive list. Anyone can try them without risk (though there may be risk if you don’t try ‘em). They must be personalized. You must make them yours, to fit your style, your personality. Deploy these tempest tamers in a manner that is congruent with who you are. Be authentic. Be congruent. Be in alignment. Be real.
- Recognize the storm.
- Don’t panic.
- Be transparent. It’s ok to be afraid. Just don’t let it debilitate you.
- Communicate clearly and frequently. In the tempest, it’s better to over communicate.
- Continue to care for the welfare of others. Show concern. Talk to them. Be present. Don’t hide.
- Eliminate the “BS” if it exits. This is not a time for internal politics and nuance. This is a time for straight talk and action balanced with compassion and concern for others.
- Demonstrate confidence. Not false confidence, but a deep faith that shows others you’re confident of success, of taming the tempest. Others will be watching.
- Focus. Focus on the mission at hand. Adjust your vision (reset your sights) and then focus on its attainment. You might have to change course or your destination due to the tempest. Being flexible and adaptable is ok (actually, it’s a requirement), but keep focused on where you’re headed even if the destination changes due to the dynamic forces of the tempest.
- When possible (if the tempest allows): a) get rest, b) eat well, c) exercise, and d) pray. If the tempest is short (eg a day), you may not have time for these actions and they may not be necessary. But if the tempest lasts days or weeks, you have to maintain energy and refueling is required.
- Watch out for others. Others on your team. Others in your family. Members of the crew. The captain. The cook. Watch each other’s back. Shout out encouraging words. Shout our warnings when necessary.
- Finally, the best time to build a team or develop tempest taming talent is not in the middle of the storm. Yes, successfully taming the tempest can make us stronger and can draw the group (project team, family, athletic club, etc.) closer together) but it’s important to have a good foundation prior to facing the tempest. Successfully taming the tempest (or successfully overcoming any significant challenge) can build the team, but there has to be an existing foundation to build upon.
The waters and sky looked calm when we left. However, by the time we reached our destination only 30 minutes away, the conditions had changed. We saw the tempest coming. Fast. Though we’d planned to enjoy a couple dives, we changed our plans and headed home. On the way back, we had to tame the tempest. The waves were high. The current was strong. The winds were wicked. The tempest seemed alive, even angry! But the boat captain and the passengers remained calm. We made necessary adjustments to the trim, speed, and angle of the boat. We communicated clearly to each other (giving and receiving directions). We set aside our egos and followed the orders of the captain and crew. We made it back to port safety. We had tamed the tempest.
How ‘bout you? Are you in storm? How are you taming the tempest? What are your tips? Are you a victim of or a victor over these storms?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.