wait 5 minutes, then freak out

In my early days of work at a church full time, I was the technical director of a church that met in a high school theater. It was a brand new facility and the theater was state-of-the-art, so it was a pretty sweet set up. On the downside, we had 3 semi-trailers full of gear to set up and tear down each week. Fortunately, there was a great team of volunteers who knocked it out every week. Freak Out signFor the most part, we had a pretty robust system for getting all this stuff set up and working on time. However, there were several times that there was a glitch in the system. That one time I overslept. Those times when the custodian opening the building overslept. And the countless times that rooms in the building were double booked. I can remember one such time where the cafeteria, which was our video overflow room, was also rented out to some kind of yoga group. When we realized there was an issue, most of my team started to freak out. Not just mild freak out, but full on “how can church possibly still happen” and “this is a major disaster” types of panic. In that moment, I wanted to join in with the whole team freak out. I figured it would be a great bonding moment for us. But although I  wanted to panic, I was pretty sure that wouldn’t help any of us. Not only would it just be one more person losing it, but as the leader, I was certain my team needed to see me stay calm. In the split second it took my brain to go through this exercise, I decided to stay calm for 5 minutes while I tried to solve the problem. After 5 minutes, if we hadn’t come up with a solution, I would join my team in freaking out. But for at least 5 minutes I would hold it together for the sake of my team. After 5 minutes, I would stop worrying about my team and give in to my panic. In this example, and in pretty much every example since I started living with this mantra running through my head, a solution was uncovered within the 5 minute window. If you are a leader in production, how do you handle a crisis situation? Does your team know that you can be trusted to hold it together long enough to come up with a solution? Do they look to you for everything to be all right or do they know that you will join them in panic mode?

photo by:
  • Eric Bramlett

    Another version of this is what I call the “rolodex”, where I commit myself to responding with the second thing I would say – never the first. I rolodex to the second thing, and almost always it’s a calmer and more helpful thing to contribute to the situation. Love it. So I guess in to follow the form the second thing to say would be “C’est Chic”, which is a great thing to say.

    • So great! And you’re right, “That is stylish!” is the perfect answer to pretty much anything.