3 Steps to Find Immediate Peace at the Office…even in midst of crisis

Find peace in a crisis
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Most people never discover that they have the super power to find immediate peace at the office even in the midst of crisis.  I wished I’d realized this when I faced a crisis at the office that caused me to lose sleep, hair, and almost my job.

It was a few weeks before Black Friday (the biggest sales day of the year), and we were all in major fire drill mode.  I was working for the largest sporting chain in the US, and we were almost sold out of the hottest must have item…Heelys.

In case you’re not familiar…Heelys are those annoying kids shoes with a wheel embedded in the sole. They allow kids to convert their shoes to Peace at the officeinline skates at a moments notice.  We had first mover advantage in the market and were depending on this item to drive traffic to our stores.

We were selling out fast and this may sound like a good thing, but it wasn’t for me. I was in charge of expediting them from China to US during the busiest time of year.

I was told that my job was on the line. And as if that wasn’t enough pressure, I even heaped more on myself imagining thousands of sad children on Christmas morning.   My work day was thrown into crisis mode with constant update meetings, report preparation, and late night phone calls all in the name of the“Heely’s situation”.

I couldn’t find a moments peace.

To be continued…..

Strut into the Office despite the Stress

I find that these kinds of fire drills and stressful situations pop-up frequently at work for most everyone, and it’s easy to sink into a frantic head space like when:

  • you get email at 10PM on Saturday night with the headline “URGENT”
  • your company is bought by a rival and your future position is uncertain
  • an email from years ago get’s dug up and comes back to haunt you

The goods news is that you’ve got the power to handle crisis much better better than you probably realize.  Often people turn to drugs, alcohol, or plain ole’ denial to deal with the stress; but, you can tap your own power to deal with the challenge and find peace all on your own.  And let me tell you that realizing that power feels pretty good:)

It leads to:

  • Strutting into the office with confidence because you know you can handle whatever comes your way
  • More enjoyable dinner conversations with your family because you’re not worrying about what’s going on at the office
  • Better sleep on Sunday night because you’re not dreading the Monday morning fire drill

The real win though is realizing when a crisis arises, you’ve got the power to find peace of mind every time.

Here’s how.

3 Steps to Find Immediate Peace at the Office

#1 Practice Embracing Crisis

One of my favorite JFK quotes is:

“ When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity”.

Although it may be difficult to see, just acknowledging that crisis can represent opportunity sheds a more inspiring light.  It’s also plants the seed of hope that something good will come for it.

I’ve always been in awe of how engineers handle crisis as opportunity. While all the “business folks” are freaking out, engineers get really excited when there’s a problem because they get to investigate, resolve, and often make things better than they were before.

From personal experience I can say this steps take practice, especially if you’re been programmed to fear crisis like so many us have.  You can practice the first step to immediate peace by writing down answer to this simple question:

What opportunity could this represent?

#2. Broaden the Possibilities before You Narrow Them

When you’re in the midst of crisis at work, its easy to get tunnel vision and let the field of possible actions narrow quickly.  Then you may take action before uncovering what all your potential moves are.  In this step, find peace in recognizing how many options you really have. Consider the ones that prioritize self-care first because when you’re at your best, you’re better for others. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Ask for help – Call on the expertise of someone you know within your organization or personal network for help.
  • Do a 10-minute brain dump – Set the timer for 10 minutes and brainstorm all the possibilities.
  • Accept the situation – Instead of getting stuck in resentment or anger,  silence the voice of “this should not have happened, or “I shouldn’t have let this happen”.  Letting go of “should” frees up your energy to invest in the task at hand.
  • Reserve your right to ask questions and clarify – What are the conditions of satisfaction? What does an acceptable resolution look like?  What’s the timing required?
  • Negotiate – Instead of “yes” or “no” ; consider the approach of “this” then “that”.
  • Take a personal retreat day.  Instead of just taking a day off and staying at home (where there’s always work to do) check into a hotel by yourself to get some down time for reflection and relaxation. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to face the crisis.
  • Choose Gratitude – Studies have shown that gratitude can reduce stress and anxiety, improve intimate relationships, and even promote physical health

#3 Take a Hedged Risk

Crisis is a often an ideal time to take a hedged risk.  It’s a calculated risk you take at work, but you get the peace of mind of a back-up measure to prevent substantial loss.  After you broaden your possible moves take a risk so small that it won’t break you or the company, but make it large enough so you can see the impact and correct as you go along.  

The Rest of the Story

After lots of brainstorming lots of possibilities, we chartered a huge airplane to move the Heelys from China to the US.  My hedged risk saved my job and also established my reputation as a guy who could “get it done”.   Although I was hailed a hero in the moment, the move came back to haunt us in our annual review for overspending the freight budget…but the Grinch didn’t steal Christmas 😉

So what’s your story of facing crisis at the office and how did you handle it?

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5 Comments

  • Sarah Swingle

    Reply Reply March 11, 2014

    I love the idea of embracing the opportunity of crisis and especially the discussion of gratitude.

    • benfanning

      Reply Reply March 12, 2014

      Thanks Sarah. Sometimes it’s hard to find gratitude in the midst of a crisis but I find by digging a little deeper it really give clarify to the larger picture.

  • Brian Moran

    Reply Reply March 12, 2014

    Ben, this is great stuff. Can you give an example of gratitude in the face of crisis?

    • benfanning

      Reply Reply March 13, 2014

      Thanks, Brian. Good question on tapping into gratitude when you face a crisis. When times are good, gratitude helps me to remember to celebrate and magnify the goodness…but in a crisis?…a bit tougher.

      In my view, gratitude helps keep things in career and life in perspective which in turns keeps us from being overwhelmed by temporary circumstances.

      You can use gratitude in a crisis by thinking back to the worst cluster of a moment you’ve faced before. Then remind yourself how you made it through. Thank goodness!

      Btw…thanks for the itunes review 🙂

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