There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather...Just Bad Gear
Life can be unpredictable at times. It can feel messy, hectic, and out of our control. The minute you think you have it all figured out…something changes. You plan to go left, but the universe forces you to go right. Murphy’s Law kicks in and what can go wrong…often does go wrong.
During these times, it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather…just bad gear, and planning a little in advance for the unexpected can make a huge difference.
I was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My father was a homebuilder and my mother a school teacher. We didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but we easily made up for it by having a great deal of flexibility. Our version of family fun was either playing outdoors, or hopping on a plane to somewhere far away.
Some of my oldest memories include driving over mountain passes on rough dirt roads in our beat up Land Cruiser, and sleeping in tents under a blanket of stars. I also remember having to put up with a lot of “less than ideal” situations. Flat tires, broken axels, hail storms, and leaky tents to name a few. A true adventure only begins when your plans go out the window, and we had more than our fair share of adventures.
“Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” — Dolly Parton
The times when you have to go “off script” and embrace Plan B (or Plan C) are the most educational. It’s the stuff that books and movies are made of. Facing adversity. Getting out of your comfort zone. Embracing challenges. Having to think out of the box. These were the types of lessons that were instilled in me from a young age through our adventures and travels.
Spending time in Nature tends to give you healthy reminders of how you fit into the bigger picture. Nature can quickly remind you that you aren’t always in control, nor are you always at the top of the food chain. Go surfing in Northern California and you’ll quickly realize that there are beasts and shadows below that tap into any mortal’s deepest and darkest fears.
Traveling abroad also offers equally important lessons. One is quickly reminded of how much we take for granted when you don’t speak the language, can’t read the signs, and have lost your way.
In my twenties, along with my brother and a tight knit crew of friends, we became sponsored whitewater kayakers. To avoid the harsh Colorado winters, we would travel to places like New Zealand or Chile to train on their world class rivers. The more remote the location…the better! Many of our adventures required the use of helicopters, climbing gear, and overnight essentials.
When you’re remote, you also have to be self supportive. Accidents happen, injuries occur, and things break. In these situations, waiting for help or rescue is not always an option. You must be prepared to fend for yourself and your team. We’ve had to deal with head traumas, dislocated shoulders, near drownings, broken bones, and many complicated extractions from steep canyons and gorges. To accommodate this, many of us became Wilderness First Responders (WFR’s) and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s). Some even became E.R. doctors and nurses. This was one of the ways we prepared for those “Oh Shit” moments that seem to always occur at inopportune times.
Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life have come from these “immersive experiences,” and I continue to apply them in my role as an executive coach, consultant, and business advisor. Understanding the importance of trust. Over-investing in clear communication. Identifying what success looks like. Holding each other accountable. Assembling the right people and gear for the mission. Having a backup plan… or two… for when things go awry.
These same themes also resonate with our clients in the business world. Similar to Nature, the business world is not a static environment. In fact, things are unbelievably dynamic, and the landscape is constantly evolving. Geo-politics, weather, wars, and financial markets are just a few examples of things completely out of one’s control, that business leaders must respond and adapt to.
When you head out on an adventure in Nature, you accept the fact that there’s a great deal out of your control, and you pack and plan accordingly. In business, you must also plan and prepare for the unexpected. For it’s not a matter of IF, but rather WHEN, the storm will hit.
Can you prepare for everything? No.
Can you prepare for most things? Yes.
In our experience, some of the highest leverage areas for leaders to focus on are:
Communicate the WHY — One of the most powerful tools leaders have at their disposal is clear communication. Most leaders under-communicate the WHY. Instead they focus on the HOW and the WHAT. The more your team understands the WHY, the more bought in they’ll be…especially when shit hits the fan.
Learn to Leverage Adversity — You never truly know the true strength of a team until they face some adversity. Adversity either brings out the best or the worst in people. Some folks will step up under pressure and truly perform. Others will duck and run, or crumble. Use these moments as a catalyst for growth and development for your team, as well as a forcing function for reflection.
Improve Feedback Loops — There’s a surplus of untapped intellectual capital stored in every organization. Everyone from front line employees to executive team members, have ideas on ways to improve the business. Yet all too often, they lack the formal channels to express their ideas, and the feedback rarely sees the light of day. Setting up formal and informal feedback loops drastically improves a company’s ability to respond and adapt to change, because information and ideas flow more freely both vertically and horizontally.
Preparing for stormy weather isn’t necessarily fun, but is worth its weight in gold. It’s all about having the right mindset, and embracing things as they come. Remember…there’s no such thing as bad weather…just bad gear, and planning in advance for the unexpected can make all the difference.
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Better Faster Further is a strategic consulting and executive coaching firm that helps leaders, teams, and organizations maximize peak performance. We empower people and businesses to become the best they can be. You can learn more about us at Better Faster Further, LinkedIn, Twitter, orFacebook.