Sunday, June 18, 2017

What now? Disaster survival skills. The attitudes and actions to survive, recover and even thrive, after calamity struck.

What now?  The Attitude and Actions of Crisis & Disaster management.
How do I survive, recover and even thrive, after calamity struck.

A crisis, calamity or a disaster is a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm you, your loved ones or what is valuable to you. 

All calamities and crises have one thing in common. Be it a natural disaster (fire or floods destroyed your house) , accidental death of a loved one, huge motor vehicle accident, shipwreck, loss of a limb, displacement due to war, nuclear or ecological disaster, terrorist attacks, murder of a family member, you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, you got shot in crossfire  - you name it. The common denominator is that after that event your future is not what it used to be. Your perceived picture of the future is destroyed. It went up in flames or was washed away or abruptly brought to an end. 

You thought you would live happily ever after in this house, but it is now totally incinerated by fire. You thought you would grow old with this person – but it is not to be. You thought that you would be able to make your livelihood in this place, but you were forced to leave.   

The thing with problems and disasters is that they don’t have respect for rank or file. They hit all people on all levels and walks of life. The question is, independent of your rank or file: Can I continue after crisis and calamity? And if so, how? Furthermore: How can I be mentally and physically prepared for any eventuality?

Here are 13 steps or modes (obviously not exhausting the topic) to get out of the crisis and into a new future. The 13 steps of crisis management involves dealing with threats during, and after they have occurred, and before they re-occur.

1.     Get into survival mode. Do whatever it takes to survive . In the Knysna fires that almost destroyed a whole town, one family (father, mother and small kids) jumped into a muddy fishpond with wet towels over their heads and a small opening to breathe  to survive the ravaging fire. Act fast. Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  This is not a time to sit still – action will be rewarded.
2.     Get into ask for and accept  help mode.  Ask for it, even cry for help in the hope that someone will arrive to help. But do not lose hope if it doesn’t. This is the time to accept and be thankful for the stretched out hands to you.  
3.     Emotion management mode:  Do not suppress emotions  – do not give free reign to them.  Recognize deep emotions and feel free to express appropriately. As soon as things settle down, go for trauma counselling as soon as possible, to deal with the loss and to reconstruct the future.
4.     Get into “asking the right questions’- mode:  Not why me? – questions. Rather What now? – questions. For many it is ‘game over’ and they are wrecked, partly because they ask the wrong questions. They ask “Why me?” instead of “What now?” questions. Learning to ask empowering questions such as ‘What must I do to survive?’ in moments of crisis, is a critical survival skill. Ask ‘why me?’ when you are wounded and you will bleed to death. Ask ‘what now?’ and you will crawl to a place of safety and healing. First try to be prepared for any eventuality (risk management), but if all else fails, ask how can I survive.   Also deal with survivor guilt: Why did I survive and others not. The answer lies in personalizing it:  You are busy with your own journey … you are still here – ask what good purpose can you find for your survival end the go for it. 

The RIGHTATTITUDE: Victor mentality & Re-frame

5.     Get into victor mentality mode. It is first about attitude, then action. Get a mentality fit for the future. Attitude is one of the things in your control. You can choose to have a ‘victim’ or a ‘victor’ mentality. Victims focus on what happened. Survivors focus on how to respond. Between stimulus and response lies your freedom: You have one of three choices when something bad happens: You can either let it define you, destroy you, or strengthen you. Therefore: Get out of the victim mentality and into a victor mentality.  Know fear, but have faith. Circumstances influence you, but don’t determine you.
6.     Get into reframe mode. Create meaning. Use the powerful human ability to even create meaning out of terrible meaningless situations. It starts with the belief that good can actually come from this.  Re-framing works like this: Accept that many things are utterly meaningless. E.g. The death of a child or a loved one. Or the destruction of something valuable. Then learn from Victor Frankl (amongst others), that was thrown in a death camp during the 2nd World War. He demonstrated the unique human ability to create meaning out of something utterly meaningless. He searched for meaning and found a purpose for himself in the situation – first to survive, but secondly to live to tell the story and lessons learned. Create meaning by using the horrendous situation to grow as a person, as an opportunity to help others, and to learn something. Employ horrendous situations... don’t resent them.  Meaning is created, not by understanding better, but by doing things differently.

The RIGHTACTION: Re-focus, , Re-group, Re-join (Re-start)
Attitude and action will carry you through.
7.     Re-focus mode: Get a new picture – a new preferred future. Crystalize the picture – do not try to get the past picture back. That is irreversibly gone.  Imagine a new and even better, but different picture
8.     Re-group mode:    Don’t do it alone. Re-group: Get connected and don’t go it alone. Get a support structure in place:
- I am connected with good people (friends and family) who will carry me through.
- I am connected with a good coach who will see me through.
- I am connected with God: I got to know him as Emmanuel: God is with us in all circumstances. In adversity I am more than a conqueror:
9.     Re-join mode (Re-start) mode .  Re-join and Re-start: Meaning is created, not by understanding better, but by doing things differently. Get going again. Get a ‘start with what I have’ attitude. Don’t wait for better days or more resources. Get back in the saddle .
10.  Reconstruction mode: Best way to guarantee the future back is to create it.  Built up - with worn out tools as Rudyard Kipling wrote in his poem “If”.  
11.  Mastery mode.  Record treasures -  observe the growth in you  . create meaning , life breaks us – and then many of us are stronger. Ask yourself: If growth results from hardships, why do you resent difficult times so much? Reframe it from being a stumbling block to a building block and a stepping stone.  As a test:
List and name five instances of positive growth that resulted in your life due to past calamities.
1. __________________________________________________________________________
2. __________________________________________________________________________
3. __________________________________________________________________________
4. __________________________________________________________________________
5. __________________________________________________________________________

12.  Ready for the future mode.   Take heart and get hope for the future. If you can survive this – you can survive everything. 
13.  Be ready for future calamities and success:  Be prepared for calamity and success in the future. Treat the two imposters just the same: Handle both with care. Both must be managed well. Be strong enough to handle the three C’s of life: Crashes, Crises and Calamities. But also be strong enough to handle the proverbial three G’s that caused the downfall of many: Gold, Glitz and Glory. More men (and women) sink through success than through calamities or failure. With the question about calamity management sorted, you are now prepared to build a new life plan on a solid foundation.  (Welcome to attend a ‘Create your future “Get a Life Seminar ) 

I close with two special quotes:
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”
- Jim Rohn
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind….”
- James 1:2-8 (ESV)

 you want more information on how to make counselling/coaching appointments or book dr Gustav Gous for motivational talks, contact 
If you want  interventions for your team: Contact +27 12 3455931   0r  0845138312 (Speak to Karen) or email to discuss possibilities. 

Disclaimer:    Important notice to you as the reader:  Although the life coach (dr Gustav Gous) provide certain recommendations, the sole and final responsibility for decision-making remains your own and that the life coach or anybody associated to him and his company Short Walk Seminars Pty Ltd cannot be held responsible for any of your choices and reactions. You, the reader, must take full responsibility for your life, reactions and choices. 

Dr Gustav Gous  is an International Motivational Speaker and Executive Life Coach with experience on 5 continents. He 
was the in-house counselor for the petro-chemical company Sasol for 9 years. He is known for his Transformational leadership programmes on Robben Island, titled the “Short Walk to Freedom”. 

He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and past President of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa and a member of the APSS (Asia Professional Speakers Singapore).  Currently he is heading up the Diversity Intelligence Institute, specializing in rolling out Diversity Intelligence interventions for 
international companies. His leadership caps does for leadership what De Bono's thinking hats did for creativity and problem solving. His Coaching programme on national Radio in South Africa RSG FM 100-104 "Fiks vir die lewe" touches the lives of many South Africans. , ,
Follow him on Twitter: @GustavGous  or on Facebook and LinkedIn .  

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