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Posts Tagged ‘crisis’

I’m tired of the climate of fear out there; and the fear that sometimes grips my own mind.  I know we’re in a down economy; I know it’s been devastating for any number of people.  I know many of us feel paralyzed about moving forward. But I keep coming back to what I’ve learned and have taught in crisis communications:  a crisis is an opportunity, and the only way to make it disappear is to lean into it and embrace it.  It’s incredibly difficult to deal with finances this year; to try and manage well; to cut back; to worry about jobs, about investments, about one’s home.  There’s no easy path through this.  But that’s just the point.  When things are this worrisome and this bad, we need to be looking for the opportunity in it; we need to think outside the box and see what else we can do.  A lot of my students are doing just that – they’re working out a Plan B, and I could hug each of them for being willing to take the risk.  We all need to be reinventing ourselves, both professionally and personally – but we can’t do a good job of it if we’re trapped in fear. 

Confrontation – being willing to see, to grasp, to acknowledge – is the first step.  After that, you need to “scan the environment,” to use a favorite public relations terms; you need to take stock, and really understand and analyze where you are.  Granted, that’s easy to say in theory, when in realitiy someone might have just lost both a job and a home.  But you still have something; you still have whatever talents, skills and abilities you had before the losses; you still have your drive, you still have yourself.  As Dana Reeve told her husband, Christopher Reeve, after the horseback riding accident which paralyzed him, “You’re still you.” 

And, as I tell my younger students, who feel they aren’t doing anything if they aren’t getting straight A’s, that’s not the point; the point is that they stay and add their voices to our human community.  It takes all voices to make a choir; we all need to sing, where we are, and however we are.  A cartoon in this morning’s paper had a bird saying, “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”   Sometimes it takes great courage to still sing, and to hold on to hope.  But when all is lost, what else do you have?  Your voice, your faith, your hope;  and we move forward, all of us, because of it.

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I’m taking a much-needed break on the Oregon Coast this weekend.  The ocean sets things right again, invariably; one’s own problems and concerns fade in the sounds of the tide.

I’m taking stock of some things this weekend; I’ve just finished 3 weeks of dealing with shingles, which I’m told (and certainly believe) is a delayed stress reaction.   From helping my daughter Diana through a difficult time when Andrew was born nearly two months early and staying in Idaho with my older gransons, Christopher and Brandon for about five weeks, until Diana and Bob could bring Andrew home from the hospital; to the house flood in Missoula when a water main broke; to the move to Gresham; to the loss of some business over the summer when I could not keep up with everything after all the emergencies – it was just an uphill climb for quite a few months in there.  I took the fall off, and decided that I’d set enough things in motion that whatever would be, would be in terms of future lifestyle and work.

And, indeed, things have worked out; following my long-term dream, I start teaching winter quarter.  Business is going well.  The new house in Gresham has shaped up into a comfortable and lovely home.  I’m finally caught up with all the other aspects of my life – the work for veterans and service members regarding mandatory bioterrorism vaccines and work with the still-amazing PRSA Board, to name the two major volunteer things that I do.  And I’ve seen my family quite a bit since the move and hope to get back to see Montana friends after the holidays.

The last three weeks of pain – and, if you’ve ever had shingles, you know it’s a good dollup of pain – have, once again, taught me a little patience.  The weeks have reminded me that as much as we all would like to control our own image and reputation all of the time, there are times when it’s simply not possible.  Occasionally, life gives you a good swift kick for reasons you may never know, and the only thing you can do is control your own attitude.  It reminds me on a personal level of what we always counsel our clients about on a professional level:  it’s everything you’ve done before the crisis hits that determines how well you come through the crisis.  It’s all the groundwork you have laid at other times and in other places; all the substance you have inside you, either as a person, or as a business entity.  If the substance is there; if you have worked, and prepared, and sometimes given a little blood, sweat and tears, then when things happen that you couldn’t possibly have anticipated or prepared for, that substance will stand you in good stead.

For all those who think we spin, those of us in public relations – this is my answer.  You can “spin” all you want as an untrained practitioner whose ethics I’m sure I would end up questioning.  But when the chips are down, and we have to know who you or your client or your organization really is with all the gloss stripped away, we’ll find out; we’ll see; we’ll know.  And there won’t  be any way to stop that transparency.  So be sure you’ve built up the right foundation, the right substance, the right relationships, in advance.

Lying in my recliner watching too much TV while on heavy-duty drugs to combat shingles, those were some of my thoughts; just hoping that everything up until that point would be enough to carry me through yet one more emergency this year.

Turns out, it was.  It was enough.

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