Weathering the “Perfect Storm”

Five strategies for being the person—and leader—you are meant to be.

We are all tied together in ways we never have been before. Whether you live in the United States or not, the events since the global financial crisis of 2008 have had an impact on you, your organization, and your country.

These continue to be difficult times for many of us. We are experiencing what I call the “perfect storm.” If you saw the film or read the book by that title, you know the people in the story had weathered many storms. A rare combination of events, however, created the perfect storm—an event of such monumental proportions that even people and vessels well used to storms could not withstand it.

Similarly, we have been faced with a number of difficulties—all of them severe, but none of them without some kind of precedence. We have experienced economic slowdowns— recession, even depression—but we’ve bounced back. We’ve survived terrorism attacks such as 9/11 and Oklahoma City and bounced back. We’ve survived corporate fraud—the savings-and- loan crisis—and bounced back.

But all three at once is rare—an extreme low in the business cycle, an event of terror that reaches us all, and a crisis of corporate confidence brought on by lack of character and integrity at the highest levels.

We are in the midst of an economic perfect storm. Here are five specific strategies you can use on an individual, functional, and corporate level to survive and even thrive in these turbulent times:

Strategy 1: Focus like a laser. Ask yourself, “What are my competitive advantages?” Can you add value by driving costs down? Can you innovate? Is it time to find out what your customers—both internal and external—really want? What would happen if you changed strategy, rethought structure, or revamped processes? You probably can’t do all of these effectively at the same time, but ask yourself which two of these, if you focused, would create the most value. Then act.

Strategy 2: Think through the 10 Core Skills that are key to multiplying individual and corporate value a hundred-fold:

  1. Make and keep commitments.

  2. Face each day with a positive attitude.

  3. Persist until you succeed.

  4. Have a clear, positive self-image.

  5. Multiply your value.

  6. Treat this day as if it’s your last.

  7. Master your emotions.

  8. Laugh at the world—and yourself.

  9. See a need, take action.

  10. Seek guidance.

(If you’d like my expanded white paper on these, send me an e-mail at: with “CORE Skills” in the subject line, and I’ll get it to you right away.)

Strategy 3: Think about how the three barriers to change— the environment, habits, and multiple priorities— affect you. Remove those barriers. Think about how you can make change sustainable.

The environment: Others in your environment may like the status quo. It’s not easy being the pioneer, the one who takes the lead. It’s necessary, however, for change to take place.

Habits: We’re used to doing things in certain ways and can do them unconsciously. When we start to do something new, it requires focused, conscious effort. We can only sustain so many new efforts at any one time.

Multiple priorities: While we may be trying to change in one area, it is, after all, only one area. Many other things must be sustained. Individually, each may not require much effort. But when combined with all the other factors, the totality becomes a major factor in change not achieving permanence.

Strategy 4: Start operating on the BDH formula— “Be, Do, Have.” Some 95 percent of all people invert the formula, using the HDB formula— and they never have enough. Those who operate on the BDH formula are in the most successful 5 percent.

The HDB formula says, “If I only had X, then I could do Y, and I would be Z.” This faulty approach is based upon having something before you can succeed—something more or something other than what you have at the moment. And people operating on this formula generally are waiting for someone else to provide that “something” for them. They will never have enough to do what they want and be what they want. They are constantly dissatisfied.

However, when we focus on being who we want to be, we find we can do more, and this results in having more. The key to operating on the BDH formula is to focus on developing the 10 Core Skills on a daily basis.

Strategy 5: Overcome the crisis of character. Develop a strategic plan for building—or rebuilding—integrity.

People need people they can trust. What are we doing to become more trustworthy? People need people who will follow through. What are we doing to ensure we follow through on commitments? People need people who will brainstorm ways things can be done instead of looking for all the reasons things can’t be done.

What are you doing to become one of those refreshing people who look for ways things can be done? Once more, it begins with the Core Skills—and it begins with you and me. We don’t have to wait for our organization, boss, spouse, or children—or the state of international affairs, for that matter—to be different for us to be better. We can start today on being who we want to be.

That’s an awesome responsibility and an exciting challenge. I’m committed to walking that path. Will you join me? Until next time, continue to add value and make a difference!

Bob Pike, CSP CPLP FELLOW, CPAE-Speakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Master Trainer’s Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.