Storms – Storms – Storms: Stuff is Going to Happen

“You are either entering a storm, in the midst of a storm, or coming out of a storm.”  You have heard it before: Nothing grows without rain and “April showers bring May flowers.”  Life is full of storms, and no one is exempt.  Therefore your destination in life is determined by how you navigate these storms.

Priority number one is coming to grips with the fact that trials are going to occur when you least expect them and they will come in all shapes and sizes. To better handle these issues, examine the stages individually:

Stage 1: Before the Storm (often referred to as “the calm before the storm”)

Many people don’t enjoy the calm because they are too busy anticipating the coming storm.  So they create anxiety through unnecessary worry.  The most important part of this stage is the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”

In business we call this “risk analysis.”  Risk analysis sessions help identify potential storms that might occur in the future.  Though you will not be able to figure out every detail, you must identify, determine steps, and take action if feasible.  However, beware of analysis paralysis, trying to anticipate every negative possibility while overlooking positive potentials.  Being prepared means knowing that most storms are not identifiable and therefore your mental approach is your single greatest asset in preparation.  Here are a few key areas that should be reviewed periodically in order to help you “be prepared.”

A. Legal – Review risks for situations that might arise; use attorneys that are versed in identifying risks, but also have practical solutions.  Most attorneys are experts at telling you what you can’t do; you need one who is good about telling you what you can and should do.

B. Financial – As the old saying goes, “the way to determine the difference between a problem and a situation is if a check can be written to correct the issue, then it is a situation.”  The question now is how big of a check can you write?  When you can’t write the check is when a situation starts to become a problem.  Manage your finances by building a “contingency” fund.

C. Insurance – A review of your insurance coverage is absolutely critical.  Insurance is that necessary evil that you hope you never have to use, but if you do, you better have it.  Properly structured insurance packages can make or break you when a storm hits and provide the big check at the right time.

Stage Two: During the Storm

You need to control your emotions.  The movie “The Perfect Storm” demonstrated this so well – if the captain loses emotional control, then the team will collapse or quit.  Leaders have to remain calm, but react quickly and decisively with the knowledge that “this too shall pass.”

During the gale your tongue is either your greatest ally or greatest enemy.  It may be small but it’s the most powerful muscle in your body; it can literally tear down or build up in a matter of seconds.  It takes courage to get through a storm and people look to leaders for encouragement and strength, which usually comes through what you say and how you say it.

In addition, the leader must be keenly aware of help when it presents itself.  The most valiant rescue efforts are futile if the person needing to be rescued refuses to accept the assistance that is offered and available.  It’s like the man who lived in the flood plain of the river when the levy broke.  First he was encouraged to evacuate by car, but he assured rescuers that “God would take care of me.”  When the flood rose and he went to the second story, he told people in the boat the same thing.  Then on the roof of his house, he rejected the assistance of the helicopter, only to be swept away by the rising waters.  Finally, standing before God in heaven he asked why God let him die.  But God replied, “What more could I do, I sent a car, a boat and a helicopter to save you?”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is the tale of two cities.  One is Biloxi, Mississippi, an industrial and oil refining hub.  Devastated by the storm, Biloxi united around a plan and immediately moved forward in rebuilding.  Today the scars are still visible, but the city is reviving.  The other is New Orleans, still in the blame and finger pointing game over five years later, with billions of dollars in the coffers to rebuild, but a lack of focus on what’s important.  What will your tale be?

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