Three Questions to Help You Keep Perspective
Friday was just like any other day.
After breakfast, I got up and went to work. We had planned to have another couple over for dinner and a day trip on Saturday with our son. Patty called me around noon to tell me that she had been experiencing pain in her stomach since getting up and that it was getting worse. I asked her if it was okay for me to return home. I asked her if she needed me to come home. She said she did not but suggested that we cancel dinner for the possibility of her getting something contagious. I went out for several more hours, and she was still there on the couch. Her temperature was 101. A tenure suggested that it could be an infection and that we should seek urgent care. After a quick wait, we were finally seen. The pain grew worse and was now accompanied by nausea. After seeing the results of blood tests, they decided to run a computed tomography scan (CT) of her abdomen. What were the results of her blood tests? What was the CT scan used for? What were they looking at? What was the matter? As they took Patty for the scan, these questions ran through my mind. About ten minutes later, she returned. We sat down and waited for two hours. Patty’s nausea and pain remained stubbornly constant. The doctor arrived.
She said, “There’s some sort of stuff going on,” as she entered the room. It was a moment when I didn’t realize how many thoughts were running through my mind. She said, “It’s appendicitis.” “We will keep you here overnight and have you in surgery the following day. It’s pretty routine. I felt a huge relief. Although Patty would need surgery, it was not good news. However, this was the worst bad news I could have received. After staying overnight, she went to the hospital for a laparoscopic procedure. They made three small incisions on her abdomen and then removed her angry appendix using telescopic rods. After the surgery, we were home at 5:30 PM, and she started her recovery.
This is what I wrote on Sunday, one day after her surgery. She is now comfortable and has already eaten, washed, and put on makeup. It was not more severe than she expected, and she will be back to normal soon. The events of the past few days reminded me of two words leaders must remember:
Keep your eyes open.
There have been many times in my career when I felt like the world was falling apart around me. It could have been a failed project, a complex employee issue, or something completely unplanned that took up my time. In almost all cases, the crisis was resolved and did not affect my long-term career path. There have been many times in my career when I was reminded that the problem I was facing was small in comparison to more significant life events like losing a loved one. My sister’s death from cancer at the age of 54 was a huge wake-up call that helped me to assess the situation and to keep a perspective on the problems we face.
While I don’t think leaders should be apathetic when there are problems, we must address them and not ignore them. Great leaders address problems with focus and purpose without adding stress.
Throughout my career, I have learned to ask myself these questions in order to keep things in perspective when dealing with complex issues.
Do I expect the crisis to have an impact on my future, or will it be something I forget about a year later?
Is anyone going to be hurt by the crisis?
How does this crisis compare to things like losing a loved one or getting sick?
It’s easy for leaders to become overwhelmed by the current crisis and let it ruin their day. I ask that you try to keep the following questions in mind when dealing with your next crisis. It will hopefully give you some comfort that the crisis may not be as devastating as it seems right now.