Staying Positive in the Face of Adversity

Posted on November 1, 2012.

For millions of people, the full impact of hurricane Sandy is still being felt.  The NY subway finally opened, but there are almost 5 million people without power.  As a manager and leader in this region, how do you stay positive?

I called my friend Bob yesterday.  I remembered he lived on the Jersey shore, just south of Atlantic City.  I was concerned about his home and his safety.  Bob runs a segment of the New Jersey market for my former employer.  Almost his first words were,” everyone is safe, no one was hurt, so we have a lot to be thankful for”.  Considering he had to evacuate his home, and has yet to be allowed back in to assess any damage, I found his attitude commendable.   But as a leader and manager, it really is never about you. It should always be about the people that work for you, and Bob possesses this attribute in spades. He went on to talk about how his team was performing, how grateful he was to his job. He clearly wanted to focus on the positives.

Years ago, in the aftermath of hurricane Isabel I had an employee who was without power for almost 10 days. I didn’t even know it until she came in my office and broke down in tears.  I felt terrible that I wasn’t more sensitive to her plight.

We used this attribute “positivism in the face of adversity” as part of our 360 feedback.   If there was ever time to step up and demonstrate this quality, it’s now. So take a minute to look around and ask people how they’re doing. I mean how they’re really doing.  Even if you don’t live in the affected areas, your employees may have friends or elatives that do.  Don’t wait for someone to come in your office in tears. Find out what you can do to help.

Real adversity is not losing a good client or unexpected turnover. It’s what affects our personal lives and our loved ones. So dig deep over these next few days and weeks and be lightning rod of positivism.