Foreword: Thank you very much to the Reddit.com community, specifically http://www.reddit.com/r/philosophy/, for their support and feedback on this blog so far. Please feel free to comment and offer your own interpretations, as the ones contained in this blog are solely my own.
Lessons From a Rainstorm
“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
Yamamoto Tsunetomo in Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, translated by William Scott Wilson, pg. 44.
This is one of my favourite passages. I believe it asks two important questions of us. How prepared are we for possible problems? And, how do we react under pressure?
A Samurai seeks resolve. This means knowing how they will react ahead of time when faced with conflict. When things go wrong, some companies run around in the rain. But ones resolved from the begging stand to make the best decisions, even if a soaking is inevitable. Public Relations professionals call this a contingency plan, and it is often part of their crisis management strategy.
Take Maple Leaf Foods for example. In Aug. 2008 their public relations department reacted to a tainted meat disaster which caused the death of 12 Canadians. Their handling of the situation was so well done it serves as a great learning opportunity for any communications professional. The key to their success was their resolve. Even though Maple Leaf knew a storm was coming, they didn’t panic. Instead they followed their crisis management plan, and despite getting soaked, saved a lot of face for their brand.
The communications Samurai is two steps ahead of everyone else. They are constantly weighing and anticipating problems. And when the time comes, they remain resolved and stand behind their plans.
You are driving down a very hilly road. Rain is pounding the pavement and everything is slick. Coming over the crest of a hill, you see a two cars have just collided and are blocking the road. You slam on the breaks, but quickly realize there is no avoiding the incoming collision. What do you do?
Ideally, like a Samurai in the rain, you will identify that indeed there is no avoiding the outcome of the situation. The best thing you can do if you are going to crash, according to an ambulance attendant friend of mine, is attempt to go limp to minimalize injury; something completely unnatural and against instincts. I’m sure I would just make a stupid face and lock up like I had rabies. But we must ask ourselves; is it possible to develop a mindset that makes this decision possible?
Like a Samurai, if one is caught in a storm and everyone else is running and panicked, a good communicator remains calm. If you want others to be composed, if you want to diffuse a situation, you yourself must remain composed. Good decisions come from a calm mind.
It is not true that the communications Samurai reacts well under pressure – as that implies they react at all to pressure.