leadership and communication in a time of tradegy

The Impact of Tragedy

“If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own…how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.”William Allen White

As the images of the horrendous tragedy in Japan continue to bombard us on the various news channels, I am struck by the humanity with which the Japanese people continue to treat each other. I see this leadership and communication in a time of tradegynot only in the absence of looting but also in the manner in which they look out for each other and share the dwindling food supplies. There is no rush to get the very last morsel for oneself; rather people look to their neighbors on either side to ensure that each person has a share of the offerings.

One particular image on the news has become etched in my mind, that of a group of terrified people running up the hill to safety from the rapidly approaching tsunami. Within the group were a few who were desperately trying to carry others who appeared unable to walk. The waves rushed at them and although those ahead were clearly able to make it up the hill on their own, they turned and went back to try and ensure that the others made it to safety as well. That type of selflessness is an example of true humanity.

How will this tragedy change the way that each of us conducts our daily lives? Will we take the time to communicate with our family, friends, colleagues, and strangers in a way that shows we care about each other? Will we look them in the eyes and use words that indicate we truly heard what they were saying and recognized the importance their situation played in their lives?

Will we make the time to smile and say hello to a co-worker or client who looks like they are having one of those days? Will we even notice they’re having a bad day or will we just continue to avert our eyes and push past to our offices so we can ‘take care of those files and get out of here’, all the while complaining our way down the freeway.
I viewed a segment about one particular survivor, an elderly gentleman who had lost his entire family: his wife, his sons and all of his grandchildren. Yet despite the immeasurable grief in his heart, he still had the spirit and compassion to work with the rest of the search teams to look for possible survivors.

Considering that, it makes the traffic on ’95 seem pretty inconsequential.

So I ask you to consider – how will this tragedy impact you and how you communicate with others?