6 Ways to Deal with Disaster

Crises are different from voluntary change, because they’re imposed on you. They’re an enforced change, as we saw earlier.

There’s a Yiddish saying: ‘The gods laugh while men make plans’.

So while enforced change is never part of your plan, you have to deal with it when it  happens. Let’s see what you need to do.

When a crisis arises, some advice sites suggest you mediate, do breathing exercises, take exercise, go for a walk, carry out some visualisation, or do some creative writing. The trouble is, that’s not going to tackle the problem, only reduce the stress. If your house is on fire, meditation won’t put the flames out.

This book is dedicated to Agency – taking action. So when crisis happens, we have to act.

First, let’s not call it a catastrophe. Let’s see it as ‘just one more problem to deal with’. I know that’s easy to say. But it’s true: there is always a solution to any problem.

Let’s assume you’re the best person to deal with this, that you can’t delegate it.

If so, you’ll have to deal with the problem fast. Don’t put it off. Do it now. There’s a saying: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Decide what your options are.

A family member has a health emergency? Call an ambulance.

Lost your job? Dust off your CV. Start job hunting. Do it methodically. Talk to people who might help: many jobs aren’t advertised, and someone who works in a nearby or similar business may help you get recruited. 

A financial problem? Phone the company you owe money to. Set up a payment plan. Companies love to know you are dealing with the problem. It will go on their records that you are in touch with them.

Health issue? Get medical advice. Avoid the quacks.

Car broken down? Do you have breakdown insurance? Can you call a friend. Can you get towed?

House problem? Water pouring in? – find the stopcock. Lights gone out? – check the consumer unit (the fuse board). House on fire? – if it’s a big one, evacuate the house. If it’s a small one, deal with it. Use a fire extinguisher or smother the flames.

Let’s say a key employee has decided to leave the business, due to personal issues. She has specific knowledge that the rest of the team, doesn’t. This will leave a huge gap in the way the business operates. The steps you need to take are: Be grateful to her for her work. See if you can help her with any personal issues. Get her to put on paper the most important aspects of her work. Ask her to help train a new recruit. Decide on the job specification. Start the recruitment process.

Interestingly, this happened to me. I called the employee, who lived 8,000 miles away. It turned out she was concerned about her country’s new tax arrangements. She was worried it would put her into a higher tax bracket and make her job unviable.  After some discussions she decided to stay on. Problem solved.

6 ways to deal with an emergency

  1. Stay calm. Getting upset or frantic won’t help. Your mind will be whirling with fears and a feeling of helplessness. You can feel overwhelmed.  Now is the time for a steady head.
  2. Focus on solutions. Get a plan of action. What steps do you need to take to fix the problem?
  3. Get help. Discuss the problem with someone else. Two heads are always better than one. But be aware that some people can get emotional.
  4. Learn the lessons. What can you learn from this episode? What caused the problem, and how can you minimise it if it happens again?
  5. Put a new process in place. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
  6. Don’t catastrophise. Weeping and shouting won’t resolve the issue. Until you face the problem, it will hand around, causing you pain. Fixing the problem will give you the relief you need.  

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