The challenge we all face when we are trying to lead during trying times is just that - we want to lead. We want to be out in front and we want to show action.
As Ryan Holiday explains in his book Stillness is the Key, we need to slow down. The best thing we can do as leaders is to take a step back and just observe. We need to be intentional and stop, breathe, and analyze the situation. Ignore your instinct to jump in just to be busy. Take a step back and watch.
I know this is hard because we became leaders by doing, so in times of crisis we want to do something. But we can learn from the ancient Greek stoics. The stoics learned to slow down and observe, think, and then act.
This reminds me of when I was learning to scuba dive. The instructor knew that not only was he teaching us the fundamentals of scuba diving, but he had to teach us how to act in a time of crisis. What he said to the group was that if you ever find yourself in trouble, the first thing you do is stop (don't react), then think, then act. And he would say this over and over during the class.
Stop, think, act.
Fast forward to my first dive. I was swimming in a group about 30 feet down when someone swam in front of me and accidentally kicked my mask off. Here I am, a first-time diver, down 30 feet, and my mask comes off filling up with water.
I could have panicked and tried to swim to the top, but that could have had disastrous consequences. Instead of panicking and reacting, I remembered what the instructor said: stop, think, act. So that is what I did.
I stopped and got ahold of my mask. I remembered how I was taught to put my mask back on and then blow air into the mask with my nose getting rid of the water. Simple, easy, and without incident.
To this day I still can hear my instructor's voice. Stop, think, act.
Whenever you are leading in a crisis remember that stillness is the key and follow the words of my scuba instructor: stop, think, act.
Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.