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  • How to Show Resilience in a Crisis

    My grandpa just died. Well, one of them. And I am in a state of total shock.

    But it is Sunday night, and a lot of people are still counting on me. Which is why I’m writing this post.

    I get that I can get out of everything if I just tell people I have a family emergency. I do, and my emergency is real. My grandpa was only in his early 60’s, and nobody has any clue why he died. He just collapsed. My grandma is completely lost, and my parents are some of the few family members she still has in town.439018072_a50854e80d_m

    Worse, the news came just hours after my dad left on a three week business trip to Korea. As I type, he is probably just receiving the news, finally. And he is the one who could be the most helpful dealing with this situation.

    There is maybe nothing I can do, yet when I found out what happened I felt an inextricable pull to St. Louis (my hometown). So,  I grabbed my dog and a suitcase full of clothes and got in the car; all the while thanking God that I work from home and my office is basically my computer and my phone.

    It is Sunday night, and I have an inbox full of unanswered emails, including one reminding me to write this post. Oops.  [Editor’s note:  Oh, Monica, I wish we had known we definitely would be supportive of you!  Yes, your brand attribute of resilience is shining through.  Our thoughts are with you!]

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    I’m still writing it though, and that gives me comfort. Because I think an important part of personal branding is resilience. So,  here are my tips on showing resilience through a crisis:

    Compartmentalize and carry on2178402385_7bfaaa6662_m

    This sounds harsh, but try to put your crisis in a box. Then put the lid on it. I feel like crying now, but I can cry later too; I have the strength to wait a few hours for darkness and a pillow to bury my face in.

    And generally, if you can schedule a later time to freak out, that’s good enough to free up part of your mind to focus on an important task. And then you need to use the free part of your mind to tackle your to-do list.

    Do everything on your to-do list quicker

    I don’t think people should shut down and let their to-do list build up, especially during an emergency. It just makes the whole ordeal worse, knowing you have to deal with your crisis and then when that’s over, deal with a ridiculous amount of stuff that is behind schedule. But, nobody can expect the same level of quality when you have something important nagging at the edges of your mind every time you try to focus.

    There is only way to do the same amount of things in a smaller time frame – cut corners. Like this blog post. About my crisis. Written in ten minutes.

    Delegate things that you can’t or won’t do

    Of course you should still do most of your to-do list –  but realistically, some things are just unimportant. Like the laundry. Wash a load and do the rest next week, really.

    There are also some things that are really important, and you have to get them done right. This means #2 won’t work for those tasks, because you can’t cut corners or it will look like a crappy job. So find someone who has the time to do the job correctly.

    What else do you do to make it through daily tasks in the midst of a crisis? Do you think showing resilience in a crisis enhances your brand? Or do you think people will understand if you disappear as long as it’s really an emergency?

    Author:

    Monica O’Brien writes career advice for young professionals at her blog, Twenty Set. You can also follow her on Twitter (@monicaobrien).

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    Monica O’Brien is an MBA candidate with years of experience in business, strategy, and technology. She currently consults start-ups in the Chicago area on establishing their social media strategies. Monica attends the Chicago Booth School of Business (at the University of Chicago), currently ranked the #1 MBA program in the country by BusinessWeek, and is one of the 2007 Chicago Business Fellows. She concentrates in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship. Monica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, with a minor in Physics, from Truman State University. Her blog, Twenty Set, gives career advice to young professionals. Monica writes candidly about her own experiences. She has also written for Mashable and ProBlogger, and has been featured in major publications like the Christian Science Monitor.

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    Posted in Brand Yourself As, People, Personal Branding, Reputation Management
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    5 comments on “How to Show Resilience in a Crisis
    1. avatar
      EXPERT

      Monica, I’m sorry for your loss. You write well in a crisis, perhaps there’s a future for you in crisis communications?

      Your suggestion about “compartmentalizing” is very much in line with Sir William Osler, the physician who is regarded by many to be the “founder of modern medicine.” A famously efficient manager of his time and talent, Osler advocated arranging your time in “day tight compartments.” It yielded him great results, and I bet it will do the same for you.

      For now, I hope you’ll be able to spend a solid “compartment” of time with your family, and I’ll look forward to reading your column again when you come back.

    2. avatar
      EXPERT
      Beverly Macy says:

      Monica, Sorry for your loss. I agree with you about the ability to compartmentalize. It is a good self-discipline tool to help you keep moving and meet your goals. Don’t forget to take some personal down time, however, even a short period, to help you keep your emotional balance. Being efficient is a terrific skill. Being human sometimes seems harder….Great post.

    3. avatar
      EXPERT
      Yinka olaito says:

      Monica, this piece is a great encouragement to everyone particularly to womanhood. You have great personality that serves a role model in times of crisis.
      But depending on the level of crisis, there may be time it will never comes easy the way you suggest. This depend on personal involvement and relationship to the crisis at hand. we will never blame a mother who lost her only teenage child to compartmentalize, do everything fast etc.
      Nevertheless your piece serves as a great encouragement to personal brand’s resilence. keep it up and so sorry for the loss too.

    4. avatar
      EXPERT

      Monica, May God give you peace at this time. It is not easy when we lose someone close to us. We rely on God’s strength. You can have discipline while you grieve. God has wired us that way so we can be an encouragement to others. Just remember, when it’s time to cry…just cry.

    5. avatar
      EXPERT
      Lauren Burns says:

      Monica – I’m sorry for your loss. As someone who has also gone through a recently tough time, reading this the key points resonated with me a lot.

      The other thing that I would point out as that when life gets incredibly tough, you have to also make time for yourself, and your emotional/spiritual regeneration. Do something to help you relax, and to help you rest for the longer journey ahead, whatever that might be.

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