Potential CrisesCrisis is something that everyone deals with at some or multiple times in their lives. It’s part of the human condition. No one can escape because we live in a world where humans do unspeakable things to others and Mother Nature has a whim of her own.

I am a big proponent of planning and thinking things through – it’s necessary in order to be successful in most endeavors. But you can’t plan everything nor can you eliminate all uncertainty.

The question comes down to how you prepare to face a crisis? There are four possible responses to a crisis: Accept, transfer, mitigate, or ignore the risk of the crisis. Most rational people would never ignore the risk of a crisis but they do in reality because they assume it’ll NEVER happen to them. We are so good at fooling ourselves. New Orleans and Katrina is a great example of this approach.

We wrote about potential crises and how to prepare in Godzillas and Frogs: Understanding Potential Crises and we even came up with a wonderful graphics to characterize potential crises.

But let’s move on to the fact that a crisis will occur – despite all the planning and preparation, Murphy will always appear at the worst time. So how do you respond?

One of the worst attitudes to have when a crisis starts is to think that you can handle it all by yourself. A generous helping of humility is needed because it’s most likely that your first impulse will be wrong. You will react of if there’s no crisis but just a regular event – we discussed the lessons of a crisis in 11 Leadership Lessons from Godzilla. I use Godzilla instead of a “ordinary” disaster because 1) almost everyone knows Godzilla and 2) Godzilla is a great analog for any major disaster without creating a bias – there’s a reason why the movie Volcano took place in Los Angeles instead of New York.

I would also encourage you to review our blog posts on Four Leadership Lessons from the Guys Who Made Godzilla’s Suit and Five Leadership Lessons from the Men Behind Godzilla which are about how they handled the crises they faced.

Humility is also needed because you create a comfort level when you plan for a crisis and put in place the preparations that you decided you’ll need. When you have everything in place, there’s a satisfaction and a reassurance – you’re ready!

Or are you? I helped one organization that had created a wonderful disaster preparedness plan and put in place directions for who was to do what, where supplies would be located, everything was in great detail. Until I arranged a tabletop exercise that tested the plan and the organization realized that the plan required certain people to be present in order for the plan to be executed and if they weren’t then nothing would be done.

Think you’re ready for a crisis? Think again and ask for help. We’re here to answer your questions and challenge your assumptions. Together, we are stronger.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.