We have all gone through the lows, the funks, the losses, some catastrophic, others not so much.
In these situations when the metaphorical shit hits the fan, the most amazing thing happens. The people involved polarizing reactions, you could have sworn one had won the lottery while the other had a gun pointed to their head.
‘It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.’ – Jim Rohn
If this statement is true or even remotely accurate which I and so many others with credentials actually worth listening to would argue, is. Yet, if so much of our ‘success’ is merely our reaction to these moments. Why do we allow ourselves to act like three old children?
It’s in these moments that opportunities to separate ourselves from the masses lay. In these moments, two things will occur.
#1 The peak-end rule; a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and how it felt at its end. Our memory becoming skewed by the very last moment.
There is a moment in all chaotic or bad situations, a moment for saving grace and we leave it un-utilized over and over again. The very last moment is where we have one last chance to leave a good impression.
Late to work, clothes un-ironed, terrible work ethic, and everything was someone else’s fault, the true embodiment of a victim. The day came (all to late) where we let Bill go. His reaction and the first words out of his mouth were “Ok, 2 things, One Go fuck yourself. And… two you need me.”
The unawareness Bill possessed was world-class, truly. However, that’s not the point I tell Bill’s story.
After our meeting where he was let go, we walked Bill through the office to collect his things. Upon reaching his desk, he decided to smack a full soda can across his desk. Then stopped and looked over. Until that point, few were looking.
Next, in a display, Dicaprio would be happy with he pointed at me and said in front of 40 people “watch yourself.” Turning around he stormed out of the office and with a final dramatic Spartan kick he booted our front door (which swung back and hit him), and he was off.
Turning back to see how everyone else reacted to the situation, thinking I would need to explain our decision. We didn’t have to. What I saw was an almost uniform smirk on the face of everyone. Seeing the immense effort that everyone was putting in… not to laugh.
It showed clearly what the rest of the office thought of Bill.
A thought exercise…
Now, despite Bill’s terrible tenor at our company, what if Bill had said ‘I understand’ had walked to his desk thanked everyone for the time together and left professionally. I would argue everyone would think better of Bill (obviously). However, we might even go as far to think it just wasn’t a good fit, maybe it wasn’t Bill’s fault? Maybe he was after all a good worker. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Now, these bad choices/reactions aren’t kept for us lowly employees. It is a universal fact for all humans that our reactions are almost always the cause of more and more significant problems. But, what happens when it happens to all of us at once?
What about when the whole fan falls off the roof?
When a mass lay off happens either through an office relocating or a company going Bankrupt. An array of reactions from the people affected occurs, from the executives down to the newest employee we all handle stress differently.
No one will say it is a good thing, the devastation can ruin livelihoods, break families apart and is genuinely heart-wrenching. However, the reactions can determine the next 6, to 12, to 24 months of these individuals lives more than the event itself.
In my single experience with something as big and dramatic as a company-wide layoff, the reactions of all of us varied drastically. After receiving the final word that our company had gone under and the terrible and numerous calls out to the team were made, the real show began.
The next morning when we all went into the office to collect our personal effects, everyone reacted in their own way. Some hugging, others laughing, a few crying, and some stealing.
As we sat looking out of the window overlooking the carpark we noticed what people were carrying. The office had grown legs. Everything that wasn’t bolted to the ground went into their cars. Rugs, cups, folders, printer paper, posters, cutlery, water fountains, chairs, desks, many going home and coming back with an empty car to do it all over again.
Over the coming month, the reactions continued in varying fashion. Some blaming the middle to senior management for the ordeal, people that had no impact on the situation. Others, holding personal documents ransom. Friends cutting off each other saying they were in on it. While rumors about payouts began to spread, then others took to social media sharing group chats saying it was fraud.
A horrendous situation in all counts, but! While we all struggled to deal with the news, others had a new job in under a week.
It was also these people that shook hands thanking everyone for the good times and laughing about the bad, they just moved on with their lives.
I was in awe of these people…
The second thing that happens in these moments, or very soon after, is…
#2 A phone call.
In the following weeks after a terrible crisis, especially in the professional sphere, there are always, to impress this upon you ALWAYS, new opportunities.
You may have heard that the Chinese symbol for Crisis has two elements. One meaning Danger the other Opportunity. Well, this is partly true, the second symbol that many take to mean opportunity can have many different meanings, and it turns out means something closer to “incipient moment” aka a crucial point in time when something begins or changes.
People are great they want to help, truly. After the company went under I was blessed to have a few job opportunities come my way from people within the company and one where I would need to build a team again. I can say when figuring out who to bring on board for this new project, the dier last days, the days of stress, the ‘bad’ times, come to mind a LOT quicker than the good.
The people that handled those situations, especially the final one, poorly, didn’t get a call.
Heres the kicker we never really know when this happens to us. AGAIN, I’m sure this happened to me, I am not preaching, more documenting the existence of this reality.
All I can say is with a level high certainty the people that didn’t get a phone call from me and others that I know had their own new opportunities. Was due to the fact they handled the stress of a/or/ the final situation poorly.
Make sure you’re the one getting the phone call.
So why is bad shit so damn good?
It is an opportunity, sometimes of a lifetime to separate yourself from those around you.
“Easy reveals nothing, hard reveals everything.”
It is a time where you can stand up, become a leader, help the situation, be the rock people lean on, the caring soul that takes on the brunt of the burden. While others are too busy blaming and yelling, you can shine through.
Please note again… I am not saying I did or do this well!
It also an excellent gauge for who you call for your next opportunity. You meet the worst and the best of people. ‘Bad Shit’ separates the professional from the amateur, the victor from the victim.
Whether it is a devasting lay-off, a bad sales call someone dinging your car or a bad breakup. Developing the ability to stop and force yourself to assume good intent from the others involved will allow for a better RE-action on your part. Cultivating this skill, and it is a skill, it can be learned. Will bring you more and better opportunities.
“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” – Jim Rohn