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How to Face a Storm

As I write this article from my home in Houston, Texas. I’m keeping one eye on my computer screen and my other eye on the television as I watch a swirling mass of weather in the Gulf of Mexico called Hurricane Harvey. Most of the weather forecasters are saying that they are very confident they know where the storm will make landfall. However, after it reaches land, they really don’t know what’s going to happen. So, thousands of other people and I are left with a very ambiguous and potentially dangerous situation.

It’s interesting to see the various ways people handle approaching hurricanes as well as personal storms in their lives which are fraught with uncertainty. Some people such as Douglas Hubbard, the author of How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, believe that knowledge is the foundation for the reduction of uncertainty. The more knowledge you can acquire, the more certainty you will have. While this may be true, there are times when there simply isn’t enough information to eliminate the anxiety that accompanies a storm. Also, too much knowledge may increase your anxiety. Keeping the television on the Weather Channel 24/7 may not be such a good idea.

Some people believe that if they don’t look at a situation, it may vanish. Their motto is, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This approach may not be such a good idea if you find yourself in the middle of a storm and are looking for a way out. Turning off the television or watching your favorite movie will not make the problem go away.

There are also a few people who attempt to ease the anxiety of a storm with humor. Yes, it’s true that laughing at a situation may diminish your concern. However, this is akin to drawing a smiley face on a bottle of laxative. You may chuckle as it’s going down, but the result is not laughable. Having a hurricane party surrounded by good friends, music, and laughter will not eliminate the problem of the storm knocking at your door.

In addition to gaining as much knowledge as you can, admitting that the situation is real and maintaining a jovial outlook, there a fourth alternative to handing a storm. Look out of your window and see for yourself what the storm is doing. After all, the weather forecasters can only predict a storm. You are the person who is experiencing the storm. Even if the situation turns out to be less than hopeful, it’s easier to face the “devil” you know than it is to face the “devil” you don’t know.

The ambiguity of the future is often diminished by the reality of the present. We can only respond to what we can see. Trying to respond to what we don’t know rarely has positive consequences. So, take an honest look at the storm that’s at your doorstep, and you’ll know what you should do.




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