From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Like most people, I have a pretty standard morning routine, with different preparations done at different times in order for me to leave the house for work at a set time.
One morning this week, all was going just as planned when right in the middle of this well-choreographed dance party, the power went out. As I live in the country a power outage is a double challenge as the water supply is also affected.
Now we do not have power outages that often – maybe four times per year. However, from the reaction on this particular morning, one would think that we live off the grid most of the time. There was no panic, no exclamations, no real bother. Knowing that I was now in the complete darkness brushing my teeth in the bathroom my partner brought me two lanterns. My son strolled out to the pond to get some “toilet flushing water” while my partner lit our gas stove with a match and started boiling water for my travel tea mug.
The power outage changed everything, but the dance continued almost uninterrupted by the sudden new challenge. And that was that, I finished getting ready by lantern in the bathroom, got dressed, packed up my lunch, made my tea, waltzed off to work.
What made the transition so smooth? Why was no panic or frantic wondering about what to do next or how to adjust to make the morning routine happen inside the added challenge? I think there were two things going on. First-off, we had experience with the power outage scenario – not that often, but they had happened before. Secondly, we had each other. As a team we just worked it out, did what needed to be done, stayed focused on the tasks we needed to do and helped one another.
There was definitely magic happening on both counts. Experience with different challenges sets us up to be able to face them, or something similar, again with calm resolve. And having a team of people around you to stare down and overcome the problem is so much more buoying than facing it alone.
Challenges, setbacks, misunderstandings and lights out moments are the stuff of life and all we can take real control over our own responses to that stuff. There is a choice in every challenge – rail against the darkness of it, stay alone in a dark bathroom, and complain about the injustice of a challenge when you did not want it. Or seek out a light, lean on the team for problem-solving and calmly carry on with the now-new circumstances.
Somewhere between flushing the toilet with pond water and putting on lipstick by battery-operated lantern, the challenge can be wrestled to the ground. And working with a team’s collective experience and knowledge, the light on the other side will return.