Credit card debt? Holiday stress? Sriracha shortage?
We have all experienced crises, and have had to find our way back to equilibrium. Two weeks ago, I attended a symposium in California, during a big storm. On the final evening, as we traveled from the meeting site to dinner, the electricity went out all over the area. The meeting organizers were frantic that we would not get to eat, would not be able to see our food, or would insist that our substantial registration fees be returned.
The catering team was remarkably calm. Even though we arrived only a few moments after the lights went out, they greeted us at the door with candles and flashlights and escorted us across a courtyard into the dinner hall. They served us our whole dinner by the light of hundreds of candles (like a Harry Potter movie!) They managed to serve us cheese and bread for starters, and cook our dinners on a wood-fire grill. They simplified everything to what was at hand, and it was delicious. The servers were downright serene, and the hundred-or-so participants happily ate what was described to us as they set the dishes down. I think they may have been overly generous with the wine, but that put everyone in an even better mood.
What is it that separates the panicked from the calm during a crisis? Is it just the crew had seen it all, and knew they could handle it? Did they have amazing leaders who showed them the way through the darkness? Was it that they saw the power outage as a relatively small detail in the challenge of feeding an unruly group of scientists?
How do you stay calm when people around you are freaking out?