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Know what you can change!

By Peter Baines

We can't change what's happened, but we can change what happens next.

 
I reflected upon this returning from Thailand after cycling 1600kms to the calamity that had been inflicted upon those in Queensland with the floods and then Cyclone Yasi.  I returned from Thailand on the Sunday and was flown up to Brisbane within days to start working with teams who have been affected.  The questions I was asked to address were "How do we ensure business continuity, how do we communicate with staff and clients and what is the best way we can support our clients and staff?"
 
Stepping into areas such as this you will always find people will react differently to common experiences and deal with the outcomes in their own way.  For some the challenge will be met with a resolve 'to not be beaten' and it's almost like a chance to clean house and start a fresh.  For others it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.  The crisis for them will come on the back of personal or professional hardship and the latest event is the last straw.
 
How then do we deal with people who have shared a common experience but their outcomes are anything but common? Having worked with many people who have been taken to their limits in times of such extreme crisis such as the Bali Bombings, the Boxing Day Tsunami and last year in Saudi Arabia following deadly floods in Jeddah, my experience tells me that one solution will not work for all and for those wanting to help, you canít be everything to everyone.  
 
But as an employer, a friend or a relative who is looking to help, ultimately the best thing you can do is - do what you commit to do. Itís about making a commitment that is within your capacity and seeing that through.  So if the commitment is to "stick by them and help them rebuild" then that should be within your capacity and be exactly what you do.
 
I don't think those affected look to one person to solve their problems.  Most people will find the strength within to solve their own problems, however, they may need a hand along the way.  Some will seek a new beginning and that needs to be ok.  That choice shouldnít be seen as them giving up and having been defeated, it's just a choice and it's their choice.
 
Whilst those affected won't necessarily look to one person or one group to solve all their problems there will be an expectation that their leaders are present.  Drawing upon recent crisis situations both nationally and internationally there are plenty of examples of how the leaders were measured favourably or otherwise and so much of that was the timing of their assistance and their presence.  
 
As leaders, in times of crisis, more so than at any other time, we need to be present.  You don't have to have all the answers but your absence won't be excused or forgotten. 


Read Peter Baines' Biography here

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