I’m a thunderstorms kind of gal. The rhythmic claps of thunder, the musical beat of the falling rain, and flashes of light that can illuminate the darkest pathway. It is a strange tranquility that arises from the turbulence spinning outside; the pounding rain will wash away the grittiness of the day and that water will provide nourishment for a new day’s growth. You know that eventually the storm will pass, the sun will shine, and life will ease back to normal.
Then there are storms.
Not just the run-of-the-mill storms, but unpredictable storms that create havoc. If you are lucky, you heed the warnings and can spot it in the distance. You have time to prepare for it.
Other times, the storm can be a first-class creeper. These are the ones to watch because sneaky storms can be malicious. You may rise to a brilliant blue-sky backdrop that is dotted with white billowy clouds dancing across the sun’s path. Yet without warning those same clouds can grow angry. They sink low in the sky and their color turns to a hue of green and black as forceful winds push them frantically along.
These are the storms to fear because they can knock you off your firm foundation.
Navigating Storms in Your Workplace
Have you ever had days where you walk into work on a high, but in a split second, that high hits rock bottom? You find yourself counting down the time so you can run home and hide.
It’s impossible to live a life without some degree of storms. And, it’s also impossible not to have bad days, weeks, or even years at work. Conventional wisdom might tell you that when you have a bad day you should get out and take a walk, soak in a hot bath, or have a glass (or two) of wine. That works, but those things provide only a temporary respite.
Statistics say that the average person can spend in excess of 90,000 hours at work. What a chunk of our life’s time. Hopefully, most of your work hours are positive. But if you are feeling like the bad hours are becoming more frequent and consistent, it’s time for some reflection and soul searching. It’s time to get to the core cause. Is it a person? The job? The culture? Is it time for a change?
Or, is it time to be the buffalo?
The Buffalo and the Cow
I’ve always been told that a buffalo senses an approaching storm. You know how a buffalo handles a storm? They charge directly into the face of it. On the other hand, a cow will try to escape the storm by turning their backs to the wind. That’s a failed plan, because trying to outrun a storm puts off the inevitable. It will eventually catch the cow and they are then forced to ride along with it – while being pelted with rain and thrashed by the wind.
This is in stark contrast to the buffalo who will meet the storm on their own terms. It’s a beautiful mental picture. If you’ve ever seen a buffalo up close, you can understand why they symbolize significant power and strength. The thought of the buffalo staring down the storm provides me with an inspirational vision that makes me feel stronger.
The metaphorical lesson of the buffalo teaches us to face our storm, tackle it, and move through with the fierce determination of this magnificent creature.
If you find that you are facing problems at work, you may not want to take a lesson from the cow’s playbook. Running may work for a while but running also increases the time you deal with it. Eventually, the storm will catch you and its strength increases when we allow it to linger. Initially, you may have the stamina to run but long-term running zaps the energy that you should be dedicating to confronting your storm.
We don’t have the luxury of being able to choose what storms we are given. We do have the power to choose how we meet them. While you may feel frightened, breaking free of your storm is liberating. It might do a little damage, but you can always clean up debris, throw it out, and rebuild.
The point of a career should be not about surviving but thriving. Doing the work you love and working for a company you enjoy is essential to your ability to thrive. Not confronting an issue that causes you unhappiness suppresses your capacity to reach your fullest potential.
There are a myriad of ways to tackle a work issue and it doesn’t always involve leaving a job. The ultimate decision of addressing issues is yours to make, because you are the only one who will live in and live with the consequences of your choice. One thing for sure, it doesn’t matter how far or fast you run, sooner or later, problems catch you. At some point, you may have to be the buffalo.