Like many people, I’ve been trying to stay current about what is happening in Japan. First the earthquake, then the tsunami, and now the crisis with the nuclear plant. How unbelievably sad for so many people…and for their friends and families.
In a crisis, some people are able to think clearly while others seem to panic and make bad decisions. Based on your past behavior, would you say that you are good in a crisis…or not as good as you should be?
Competencies like conceptual thinking and information seeking are critical to success in these situations. Do you automatically think about alternative routes when the first road is too slow? Do you research other options or simply rely on your GPS to reroute you?
Admitting you are not good in a crisis is one thing. But you need to remember that competencies can be developed and strengthened, so allowing yourself to be the one in the group who continues to panic is simply not smart. It isn’t fair to ask your coworkers, friends and family members to calm you down when they are trying to be results oriented and handle the crisis.
What can you do to develop these skills to improve the way you react to a sudden event that is out of your control? Do some scenario planning. If you live in an area that has tornados or earthquakes, consider the best ways to handle the crisis and do some practice drills like you did when you were in school. Have extra water and batteries on hand and know your options for the next time a tornado, an earthquake, or a hurricane heads to your area.
Ask people who reacted well in the past what they are doing to handle the current crisis. It is always interesting to see people who have panicked in the past but stilll expect others to take their advice today and in the future. Be careful to avoid speaking with certainty if you are one of those people.
Develop friends who live outside your own city and geographic area. This can make you more interesting and give you someone you can stay with if you need to.
Remember that John D. Rockefeller said, “I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.”
The crisis in Japan has the potential to help many of us see the need to develop our skills in crisis management and planning, and offers us yet another opportunity to help those people most affected by the earthquake, the tsunami and the radiation from the nuclear reactors. To paraphrase a famous quote, let’s learn from the past so we do not repeat the same mistakes.