Dealing with crisis Part 1
See every crisis, problem and obstacle as a challenge.
If you plan on jumping down a rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland, or heading off to look for the Holy Grail like an Arthurian knight, you need to develop a certain attitude to life, to see life as an adventure, coupled with its challenges and opportunities that will leap out at you at every turn. Even if you play it safe like most of humanity the dragons know where to find you to shake up your life for some adventure.
Crisis on the Titanic
If you were sailing on the Titanic as one of the orchestra, the ship hits an iceberg, starts to sink, and you know you are going to die, what do you do? You carry on playing to entertain the screaming panic-stricken passengers of course, which was what they did until circumstances prevented them from playing any more.
Keep Calm and Carry On
If there is one trait about the British that marks them out it is summed up by the poster “Stay Calm Carry On”. Had the Mayan prophecy of 21st Dec 2012 come true, lots of British would have ended their lives with the kettle on, drinking tea. This is exactly what I would have done, going out with a cup of tea in one hand and a chocolate hobnob in the other.
A bath crisis
This morning I had a bath, a perfectly normal start to the day. The people downstairs had problems with their heating, which happens to be connected to mine. The plumber came, did something to their pipes, which caused my radiator in the bathroom to burst. A spray of cold water erupted over the top of me in the bath. “Thats nice” I thought, “what an interesting day this is going to be”. Sarcasm is another British trait in a crisis. Sadly it is hard to have a cup of tea and a chocolate hobnob in the bath, not that I was expecting radiators to burst and cover me in freezing dirty water. I carried on having my bath the best I could, no panic, not even a rude word uttered, then I got out of the bath and spoke to the plumber. The plumber was grateful for my letting him know the radiator had burst, because it happened to be why the heating system had malfunctioned. This challenge hid a blessing, as now my heating is working properly too.
Treat a crisis as a challenge
I treat all crisis, obstacles and problems as challenges, it causes a mentality in me of seeing the challenge as an opponent in a contest that I am going to fight and defeat in a trial of strength and skill. I also treat life as an adventure, so I am already prepared for hidden surprises. When the unexpected challenge hits, I slow, stop, step back, then bounce first to defence as I work out what is going on and my options, then into attack mode. People who can slow, stop and step back are in the “Stay Calm” mode, and then they can use their initiative to survive in “Carry On” mode.
Nor should the drinking tea in a crisis be seen as a weakness, because behind the calm is a bulldog mentality. Napoleon dismissed the British as a nation of shopkeepers, then was destroyed at the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Hitler had the same contempt and figured that the British would capitulate in the darkest days of the Second World War when he unleashed thousands of aircraft against Britain during the Battle of Britain. Alone, and written off by everyone, the British calmly fought on, drinking tea, and carrying on fighting back. Churchill was equated with a cigar smoking bulldog, but he was the manifestation of the general fighting attitude of the British. When London was badly hit in bombing one night, St Paul’s Cathedral captured the essence of the British spirit rising amongst the wreckage proud and defiant. Hitler defeated in the Battle of Britain lost his nerve about invading Britain, turning to invade Russia as Napoleon did before him, which was the beginning of his downfall.
Blame the Celts
Had Hitler invaded Britain he would have faced a hard-fought war of attrition. The Celtic influence is behind the British bulldog mentality. In Wales the Romans faced decades of fighting with a tenth of their entire military from all over the Empire pinned down; King Edward I bankrupted Britain fighting the Welsh, having to subdue them with dozens of castles, just as the Romans had to use scores of forts. In Scotland despite a hundred years of fighting the Romans never was able to defeat the Scottish, and built walls to keep them out of their captured British lands. In Ireland the British fought and lost against the IRA. It is in the Celtic nature to enjoy a good fight, which made them exceptionally good fighters in British and American armies. I think that the Celtic lack of fear in the face of death is likely behind the calm of the British in a crisis.
In a crisis, slow, stop and step back. Fight defence whilst you work out what is going on, then swing to the attack.