What to Do When Things Go Horribly Wrong
Great teams come together when a situation goes downhill.
My eldest daughter, Ashley, got married earlier this year. The wedding was at a little venue nestled in Southern California near the ocean. I experienced something during the wedding that is a great lesson for entrepreneurs everywhere.
The sign of a good team is when they do their job well when everything around them is going right, but the sign of a great team is when they do their job well when something out of their control goes completely wrong — and yet, they find a solution. Finding solutions to unexpected problems is a strength for any business.
A couple hours before my daughter's wedding, a vehicle took out a transformer in the neighborhood and the venue lost all power. This was a disaster in the making. However, the manager drove to a hardware store and bought several generators, which his team hooked up to the venue just in time.
While the wedding party was frenetic over the loss of power, the manager and his team remained calm and positive that all would be right with the world. His confidence in his team flowed over to the wedding party. There is much to be learned from an entrepreneur or manager who can respond to a serious problem while maintaining their composure in the midst of an evolving crisis.
The venue brought the power back up with the generators they procured. Everything seemed ready to go. The power came on within minutes of the time that the wedding was to start. The guests were in their chairs and the music played for me to escort my daughter down the aisle. Then, everyone stood to see the bride just before I began to turn the corner to escort her to her awaiting groom — and then, the power went out again. I looked to my right and watched a team of people from the venue run to the generators and fix the latest challenge within seconds.
With that, the music also started again. The people remained standing. The venue went above and beyond to get all of us to this moment. Now, any bride would be frenzied at this point, and my beautiful daughter was certainly in that headspace. As I walked her down the aisle, I did what any father might try to do: help her forget about her nerves. I could feel her arm trembling as we took our first steps. I leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Have you ever wondered why you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?"
That was such a random statement to make at that moment that she looked at me curiously and said, "What?"
I replied, "Or, why is you send cargo by ships and shipments by car?"
The shear randomness of these questions started to make her chuckle. People had to be wondering what the heck I was saying to her to make her laugh. As we got closer to her groom, I ended with one last question, "Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?"
At this point, she was no longer frenetic, and she had a huge smile on her face as I kissed her cheek, told her I love her and handed her over to her groom. She was beautiful, calm and very, very happy.
It's hard enough to do everything right when things are going smoothly. The test of a team's ability to perform is how they handle things when serious challenges are going on around them.
The lessons in this story are:
- Remain calm during a crisis and project that sense of calm to your clients.
- Believe in your team (which means you need to have a good one).
- Don't focus on the problem — focus on the solution.
- Act quickly to implement that solution.
Oh, and if all of this happens just before you walk your daughter down the aisle to get married, take her mind off the chaos and have some fun. This last bit of advice can actually work in many situations throughout your life and your business.
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