Ten Survival Principles for Turbulent Times

Posted on | April 11, 2009 | Comments Off on Ten Survival Principles for Turbulent Times

This post begins a series of Ten Survival Principles for Turbulent Times.

Some years ago my colleague, Nance Guilmartin (author of Healing Conversations: What to Say When you Don’t Know What to Say), suggested the notion of a ‘corporate heart attack’ as an apt metaphor for what happens when traumatic change enters a system. Remember that the word ‘corporation’ is derived from the same root as corpus, the Latin word for ‘body’. Any major change is, in fact, an attack on the heart and soul of an organization and the individuals in it. Even moreso when an entire nation or world is being affected.

In thinking about how to respond to the situation, a handful of Survival Principles came to mind. Here is #1.

Survival Principle #1: Wake Up and Look Around  
Just in case you have been getting up and going to work every day hoping that everything will work out OK-that you can avoid a corporate heart attack-it is time to wake up and look around, developing what athletes, musicians and pilots call ‘situational awareness’. Even though you can’t control what is going on around you, the first thing you can do is be aware of it.  

You must know people who had a heart attack and later, when they reflected on what happened, realized that they had missed or ignored the signs for months or even years. You’d be amazed at the number of people who walk around the signs of an impending corporate heart attack and do the same thing. Perhaps it’s the ostrich solution at work. ‘If I just keep my head down and do my work, everything will be fine.  Or at least, I won’t upset myself by what I might see if I look too hard.’

Your chances of survival in a layoff or some other type of other corporate heart attack will be greatly enhanced by your being conscious as events unfold. Awareness is the sine qua non for all the rest of these tips: without awareness, you’re doomed to be in a reactive mode, a victim of circumstances. One of my professors used to say, ‘Under the circumstances? What are you doing under the circumstances?!’ The tips that follow will help you stay out from under the circumstances.




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