Don’t Panic

Most people who know me would agree that I’m of a generally calm, nay taciturn, mien. In Dad’s Army terms, I’m more Sergeant Wilson than Corporal Jones:

So this latest offering in WordPress’ 365 Days of Writing Prompts held few fears for me when I first approached it:

In a crisis. Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?”

Thinking about it a little more, however, I’m not so sure. It really depends what sort of crisis you had in mind. Although it might be more accurate to say that it depends on what you consider to be a crisis in the first place.

In my working life I think I was pretty good in what were generally considered to be crisis situations. Having said that, though, a crisis in stockbroking or investment management could come anywhere from a very broad range of problems, most of which have only the most tenuous link to real life.

  • Thus, it could be one of ‘your’ companies announcing, at seven o’clock in the morning, a massive acquisition and capital-raising exercise, giving you about 15 minutes to come up with a rational response and advice/guidance for your sales force and their clients. That sort of thing tends to concentrate the mind.
  • Equally though, I’ve been on marketing trips (in the US, I have to say) where my accompanying minder/salesman went into completel meltdown when (s)he thought that the cab driver didn’t know the way to the airport. Notwithstanding that the guy had probably only driven the route ten times a day for the previous twenty years.

The truth is, whatever may constitute a crisis for you, panic is not going to help you deal with it effectively. No indeed, what such circumstances need is rational thought, leading to a reasoned response…

…which, unfortunately, is what tends to go right out of the window when I’m confronted with what I would consider to be a real crisis.

Such events tend to be related to technology,: like when the cork breaks in two while still in the bottle. And don’t try and tell me that a corkscrew doesn’t constitute technology. In my book, if it’s got moving parts then it’s technology.

Although if it doesn’t have moving parts then it’s probably also technology, and a lot more comp;icated to boot.

Unless it’s a rock. I can deal with a rock.

No, where I really struggle, and where I do not do well in crisis situations, is modern technology. All of these examples – and many more – have happened in the past couple of months. And I have not always been happy with my reaction:

  • when the vacuum cleaner deposits more dust than it picks up. What? you need to empty it sometimes?…Oh….Well, nobody told me.
  • when the internet connection drops out. Which is basically  the end of civilisation as we know it.
  • or my touch screen freezes. Obviously I’m going to need a new iPad. Either that or turn this one off then back on…Ah.

Fortunately, I can take solace from the fact that I am not alone in my panic-stricken paralysis when it comes to technological crises. In fact, I seem to have pretty much the same reactions as Eddie Izzard. But sadly without the comic genius.







2 thoughts on “Don’t Panic

  1. Every now and then, a full-on panic feels kind of good–cathartic. You know, the full-on, “she’s a lunatic and her hair’s on fire” kind of panic. After you burn that out of your system, you’re good to take on anything for a while– a calm, cool cucumber That’s how it feels to me.

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