Fight, Flight or Freeze

by Apr 5, 2020

And we thought we were scared before…. Yikes! Now look at what’s going on around us!

The fear input to our systems is on overload. This is way beyond business stuff. People we know are dying, not some stranger across the ocean. These are folks we know.

When will this stop? What will it all look like when it’s over? You planning on getting on a plane and snuggling up to someone in the middle seat any time soon, or ever?

We are in a rowboat in the middle of an ocean storm and facing the biggest tidal waves ever created. This just sucks!

The animal kingdom gives us a clue about what to do next. Generally applied across most “critters” the fear reaction possibilities are the same as humans. They are FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE. When the bitty bunny in the wild first senses a threat is near, its first reaction is to freeze in place, not move a hair (hare), and pray that it will not be seen. Only when the threat clearly passes does the cottontail take off for other spaces. Now, should that same threat spot the bunny and start to move towards it things change. It’s not likely that your average bunny is going to stand up and go into attack mode against any adversary, so the likely response is FLIGHT. In the bunny’s case, it means to run like all get out. And run in a direction that is most likely to be successful. They are great at this, as they have to be.

So, back to our dilemma. Our little rowboat is stuck in a huge ocean storm facing a monster tidal wave… hundreds of feet tall. No time to FREEZE. Not likely to do much good to FIGHT this thing. We have but one choice… Turn the nose of our little boat INTO the wave and row with every ounce of effort that we can pull together. ROW!!! ROW!!! Like our life depends on it… because it does.

My friend Hendre Coetzee, and co-author of Shiftabilty, put this thinking into my head the other day and it needs to be communicated to all of us. Many of us have pushed the PAUSE button on life at the moment and we must quickly get our selves out of the standstill process or we will be swamped by the series of tidal waves that are headed our way. We must take action, we must ROW! We must move now and keep moving. Move first, figure it out as you go. No time for perfection… Get going, don’t look back. Whatever action you can contemplate that even might add value for anyone, take it. Figure out how to course-correct as you go. ROW faster!

We will figure out the long term picture later. Today we need to ROW for today. Nothing strategic needed… ROW! And here is how.
Reach out and connect with everyone you can. Look to help them answer and solve the following question that you will ask them. “What one thing that you could do in the office that you can’t do working from home would help you the most?” Then go help them find a way to do it anyhow.

Now… ROW… do it all again. Connect with people, share their concerns. Face them together. Let them know that you are here to help. Because you care!

At Microchip where I work we created the following guiding thoughts for all that we do in our Client Engagement actions.. CUSP!

CARE greatly!
UNDERSTAND deeply!
SERVE endlessly!
with PURPOSE!

I think maybe for the moment I may add a R to that for ROWWWWW!

CUSPR, or maybe not… as I think our PURPOSE today is distinct and clear enough. SURVIVE to THRIVE!

And we will!

Mitch

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