Dealing Effectively With An Overwhelming Crisis… The case of flooding in Peru
Living through one of the worst climate catastrophes in Peru’s history has reminded me of how we need to feel, think and act to avoid being overwhelmed, become blocked an as a consequence fail to deal effectively with a crisis.
FEEL: ACCEPT THE FEAR
It is futile to deny the feelings of fear and anxiety when dealing with a crisis. In its core, a crisis is a threat to our survival and our brains are wired to sense danger and respond to it with fear and anxiety. As Leaders, we need to accept that we can be terrified with the fear of failing our institutions, our people, ourselves. But acceptance is not surrender. We have a choice. Through effective centering, breathing and relaxation techniques we can learn to read our emotions and bring them down to a “good” level of nervousness. Relax the tension in your body and start acting “as if”: Cool, calm and collected. Carry yourself like a winner. This allows you to change your focus on the stress of the situation in order to deal with the situation itself. This is what the government in Peru is doing to deal with the emergency, which is giving a sense of serenity to the population
THINK: FIGHT NEGATIVE THINKING AND SELF DOUBT
Unless you are a leader with an unhealthy narcissist EGO, it is absolutely normal to have negative thoughts and self-doubt. A crisis will bring out all of the limiting beliefs that you have been trying to “shake off” all your life. Limiting beliefs that will hinder your ability to come up with creative solutions. You can fight this. First by remembering your training. Knowing that all the hard work that you have consistently done in the past has prepared you well as a leader. Second, by catching yourself doing things right, feeling good about the small victories, regarding setbacks as instant feedback, and an opportunity to learn and improve. Use positive affirmations throughout the process. Finally, don’t play the comparison game. Play your own game. You are the one in charge. This is the first time in Peru that clear communications and positive messages are winning against despair, creating a solidarity movement without precedence.
ACT: FORGET THE UNCONTROLLABLES AND PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS
Crises, like the one were facing in Peru, are full of events and circumstances that the leader and his team cannot control. Rains and flooding will continue, lack of preparedness will take its toll, shortages, etc. Under this scenario, it is nearly impossible to set clear expectations and outcomes. Who knows? In the middle of a crisis, the leader needs to focus on identifying problems as they appear, in developing and executing a dynamic game plan that prioritizes solutions with the available resources, and maintaining the motivation of the team. There is no time and energy to waste in things that you cannot control. There is no need to distract yourself on how your performance is being judged or in trying to meet outcome expectations. Critics are being appalled in social media.
I certainly hope that we will see the end of Peru’s flood crisis soon. Then our President and his team will be able to come out of “crisis mode”, and start feeling, thinking and acting in a very different way. May HOPE replace FEAR, May CONFIDENCE IN OUR FUTURE replace SELF-DOUBT, May the LESSONS LEARNT guide us so that we are better prepared next time.
Mariana Rodriguez Risco | Presidente Laureate Perú
Mariana Rodriguez Risco
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