It’s Hard To Avoid Talking About Sandy

About the hurricane, I will say this:  I hope the recovery and rebuilding will put people’s lives on track in an orderly and speedy manner.

One of the many lessons from the storm for organizations:  During calm periods, we build our foundation, assets, and most important, relationships.  When crisis comes — and one can always count on some crisis coming — we will be better equipped to weather the crisis and maybe even move toward a better future.

Plenty of work units, organizations, managers, and employees seem to experience crises daily, weekly or bi-weekly.  Where would they find the time to “simply build” when they constantly oscillate between managing the latest crisis and catching up after it?  Embedded in all the managing crises, and catching-up work afterwards are the continuing power plays and politicking.  And if one needs to rely on politicking to solve and manage crises…it’s a self-referencing downward spiral.

On the recovery efforts on hurricane Sandy, Jon Stewart in the 10/31 Daily Show said it well, “Once you remove political and partisan gamesmanship from the situation, performance improves dramatically.”  He gave that segment the name of “Institutional Competence.”  Sounds oxymoronic, but it can happen when the situation becomes dire.

If only Sandy can be this “gentle…”

However, I have to concede that playing power games is fundamental to human nature.  So, to rid of any political gamesmanship, in politics or in organizations and in many cases in families, is unrealistic.  My point is not to advocate the impossible: Let’s stop playing politics.  What I propose is:  Be mindful of our desire to use power, and be especially mindful of how we use power and for what purposes.  It’s easy to hide behind a highfalutin disclaimer, “I hate playing politics,” or, “I avoid power plays.”  It is a lot more helpful if we embody and increase the level of self-awareness.  When we are aware of where we are going and what we want – and are brutally honest about this – we are less likely to create painful obstacles for others.

Parallel to the lesson from Sandy, we need to be constantly updating our infrastructure; this includes building and maintaining relationships for organizations…as well as actual buildings and equipments.  We know this, but we keep finding excuses for not doing it.  Time to revisit the knowing-doing gap lessons.

An afterthought – not original – what if all the millionaires and billionaires who have contributed so heavily to the current election contributed instead to building our nation’s infrastructure?

Right now, Sandy’s victims have enough painful reminders all around them.  I hope as recovery efforts continue, the political officials will continue to keep their power plays in check.

Till next time, a calmer time I hope…

Staying Sane and Charging Ahead.

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