Being Unleashed when Chaos and Turmoil Hit

I recently attended the NSA national conference.  I arrived late and didn’t have the opportunity to meet everyone I intended to, but it was an eye-opening experience.  I noticed the passion and intensity many speakers had to make an impact in their selected field.

Many of the people I met spoke about different aspects of leadership. A topic that needs to be heard and implemented.  Many had excellent content and shared essential lessons and strategies.  And one thing I noticed was that some who spoke about leadership had the “book” knowledge, but they had never led when times got tough.

One conversation I had was with another leadership speaker.  She was highly knowledgeable about the subject and had “presence.”   She asked me about what I speak about and the lessons I teach.   And I shared a story with her.

I told her I had never led a large company, large sales team, or government position that impacted hundreds or thousands of people.  I have led small teams and leaders. But the most important team I have led is my family.

My first lessons on leadership came from my parents.  They had three children in a turbulent time called the 1960s.  War, civil rights, drugs, sexual revolution, and, as my dad would say, long-haired hippy freaks.  Every night one of the three TV channels we had showed chaos.  And my mom and dad had to help us interpret what was right and wrong.

There would be times of chaos in our house, sister vs. brother, mom vs. daughter, dad vs. son.  But one of the first lessons I learned about how my mom and dad led was that they usually tried first to stop the chaos.   Then shared a story about the values and virtues of our family, and it was THEIR values and virtues. I learned that real leaders’ first action is to stop the chaos around them and then lead based on their values and mission. 

My wife and I tried to do the same within our family.  There were many times we were challenged and failed, but in time, we learned that if we could first stop the chaos that was going on, we could then start to lead and teach our children right from wrong.

I then shared with my new leadership speaker friend what happened on 9/11/01 when I was leading the security team for Tony Robbins. 

As we all know who was alive that day, that day was total chaos.  We were on the Big Island in Hawaii at Tony’s Life Mastery event.   After the leadership team got their bearings, Tony had to go onstage and lead a diverse group of participants.  That day was memorable not only because of what happened in NYC, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania but how Tony led that group of over 2000 participants from over 50 countries based on different values and though a bigger mission.

I then got personal about what happened during the Miracle on the Hudson.  A plane crash is nothing but chaos.  Nothing is like it is supposed to be.  And on the plane’s right side, there was no crew, so people with no training or experience had to lead to survive. Once the initial chaos of the moment was calmed down, was the time that leadership from leaders kicked in, and a tragedy turned into a miracle.

So I wrapped up our conversation by telling her why Moments Matter is because when you are in chaos or turmoil, in business, in your personal life, or within your family, that’s when your leadership kicks in.  You, as a leader, see the chaos and, first, don’t add to it; you stop it then you can start to lead with your resourcefulness and decision-making.  Helping your team to “keep their heads” and focus on the mission at hand, with the values that will help resolve the situation. You are giving yourself the best chance to survive.

She looked at me in awe or wonder, I don’t know which. And she told me she had much to learn about “operational leadership.” 

I told her that she had already experienced chaos and leadership; she just now had to think back and remember the moments in her life that had the most significant impact and had to step up, which will be her leadership story.

Because everyone will have or have had their own “plane crash” in life. They lead and survive.

A way to create opportunity out of uncertainty is to realize you have had chaos, turmoil, or uncertainty in your life.  Recognize it for what it was. Nothing more, nothing less.  What it was.

The first step in overcoming it was you “STOPPED THE CHAOS” so you could take rational actions based on your mission and values. 

And that is when you begin creating your own flight plan for your future.  Lead yourself first by realizing you already have faced the turmoil somewhere in your life and led yourself through it.