Were you able to make a clear decision?
What about your business? Has your company ever faced a life or death event? How did your company deal with it?
Who jumped to the foreground? Who demonstrated leadership? Who vanished?
It's an extremely interesting experience, dealing with a fearful event. In some ways it is a great privilege and advantage to have such an experience. I heard a great expression once: Never waste a good crisis. I wish for everyone that they get a chance to experience fear and conquer it, one way or another, or at least see what happens.
Humans are not wired to react the same way when they are riddled with fear. It is almost impossible to predict how we will react in these situations. I can freely say this based on my own personal experience. I was truly mortified by my reaction when I came face to face with true fear: an intruder in front of me in my own home with a knife in his hand.
Prior to that event, I smugly envisioned that if I was ever faced with such an event I would perform some kind of kung-fu-judo-chop maneuver that would stun and immobilize my attacker. But the sad reality of that day was that I just stood there trembling.
I had only one thought at that moment. It was repeated back to me as though I were in a robotic trance: "Call 9-1-1, call 9-1-1, call 9-1-1. ..."
I did not question it. I simply obeyed this programmed thought in my head. It did it and in the end it saved me.
PRACTICE FIRE DRILLS
This experience changed my attitude toward fear for life. It provided me without question evidence that one must, not should, must rehearse for a crisis. We must practice, and program ourselves. In the end, nothing else works. It also made me realize how clever and sophisticated our 9-1-1 program really is.
The 9-1-1 program is about 60 years old and is one of the most accessible and centralized systems to guide you through a crisis. It's simple, we all know of it, all around the world and it has been cleverly branded on our brain.
Our business continuity planning folks tirelessly try to do the same thing every day at our companies. They run call centers, simulations, scenarios, tests, plan and train for the undesired disruptive events, and catastrophes. They are trying to program us and brand ideas on our brain. Let's listen to them. Let's participate actively.
We have to take this learning home, too. How many of us actually run life and death scenarios with our families? When was the last time we practiced a household fire drill? Really practiced and not just the annual replacing of the battery out of the smoke detector. What about a personal attack to your safety, or to your family's safety?
We know we have insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding, or repairing, but how well will we recover emotionally?
We should not be afraid to have "emotional fire drills," too. If we make the effort to prepare, and program ourselves to such events, our response to these events will be much more effective, and potentially life saving. Promise--it is tried, tested and true.
JOANNA MAKOMASKI, the former risk manager for an energy delivery company, is a specialist in innovative enterprise risk management methods and implementation techniques with V3 Advisory Group.
March 1, 2011
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