We tend to measure performance by what happens when things are going well. Yet how people, organizations, companies, leaders, and other things do on their best day isn’t all that instructive. To find the truth, we need to look at what happens on the worst day.
“Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus
Products and services are only as good as they are when they break, not when everything is functioning fine.
Even if you’ve had a positive view of a product or service for years, a problem that takes forever to fix or a hostile response when you ask for help will no doubt make you take your business elsewhere.
From a customer standpoint, companies are only as good as how they behave in a public relations crisis.
Reputations are fragile. One incident of bad behavior will linger in the minds of customers for a long time.
From a financial standpoint, companies prove their worth when they show how they cope when something fundamental changes in the market or there’s a financial crisis.
Like companies, investors might be able to perform well in ideal conditions due to luck. But when the market crashes and there’s blood in the streets, very few will know how to cope or be prepared. Only the smartest will know how to survive or even profit.
Leaders are only as good as how they lead during times of uncertainty and fear.
Ask anyone to name the finest leaders in the history of their country and they’re not likely to name those who were in power during calm, peaceful times.
They’ll name those who were at the helm during wars, economic crises, pandemics, natural disasters, and so on—those who never wavered from a vision and whose consistent, empathetic appearances gave people a sense of hope.
As individuals, we tell people the most about who we are when everything goes wrong. These times are also when we stand to learn the most about ourselves.
Your kids might not remember how you behaved on a relaxed, sunny Saturday. But they’re sure to remember how you behaved on the day when you’d lost your job due to a recession, or you’d just had an argument with your partner.
That’s the day when your behavior has the most to show them about what to model in the future.
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