Dealing with disasters
What do you say to someone who has been crushed by reality? Partner split? Death of someone close? Loss? Chances are you'll say nothing because I've had stunning lows and I did notice at the time the sight of many 'friends' rushing out the door.
Let's look at my (our) 2022 low – the loss of our second roadshow business (not ENTECH, it is our primary) to a stunning lawfare manoeuvre by our partner's lawyer. He executed a very long and complicated gambit and walked away the winner. I was down on myself for a week, allowing myself some woe-be-un-to-me. Until I realised a new set of realities.
First of all I wasn't stressed any more, and amazed that I had become so, over eight years, dealing with these people. My sleep became more solid. I had been the literal frog in hot water that got too hot. Next I delighted in knowing just how ill-equipped these morons are, in every way we were not.
They have no idea on logistics, having reasoned without analysis that because we made it look easy, it IS easy! We travelled with a lot of our own infrastructure and all the problems were invisible to our partners. Part of successfully running complex events with a lot of moving parts on a tight timeline is aptitude and preparedness, knowing the risks and having contingency plans. These people are emotionally brittle, panic imbued argumentative unreasonable shallow humourless drones.
In hindsight many things could have been different, but the trigger for the bust up was me giving them some good old fashioned character assessment when they proposed I fire Kate - to save money. And that the female part of the partnership would step in and do Kate's job. Inference? It must be easy, because it looks easy. So I told them to go and fuck themselves -- and they actually fucked me instead!
Now I am very sanguine, more focussed on less, and thus getting better outcomes from ENTECH and our newly emerging production company. The gains will soon eclipse the money we made every year on that partner business.
What's the message here? It's how to cope. My various disasters include bankruptcy, Prostate cancer, and three divorces. Add in some death along the way, and a couple of multi million dollar business shutdowns.
My over-arching instinct is to always work on minimising the collateral damage by ring-fencing the problem. Now I'm no Guido Orefice, the father of a little boy in a concentration camp from the movie, 'Life is Beautiful'. I freaking well KNOW how bad stuff is, while it is happening, and I'm not gliding along minimising, denying, and changing the subject.
Almost everything that has gone the wrong way for me has been foreseen using the old showbiz strategy. That is asking yourself, 'what can possibly go wrong?' and thinking about what you would do, to keep the show on the road.
You're allowed to cry and feel sorry for yourself, but quarantine that as best you can. I'm a talker, one of the things I found hardest to deal with was the lack of someone to talk to. People in distress need to talk out what has happened. They don't need someone to say 'there, there, that could be worse, you'll find another one', or any of the platitudes. Don't need social media tropes like 'sorry for your loss'. They need someone to talk to who can gently probe what happened and to just bloody well listen. To let you cry, then to pour a cup of something or rip the cap off a bottle. If you want to get pissed, they should join you. When you them to go then off they fuck.
Yeah a casserole or a metaphorical chicken soup is OK too, but hand wringing is not. It's MY disaster, not yours, so try to limit YOUR tears. Gentle humour is great. Direct communication is essential. "You're talking about killing yourself? How do you plan to do that? It might hurt a lot…."
Look, every armchair psychologist has a different twist on this stuff.
I once asked a very good mate whose wife had died of cancer and whose business was at rock bottom. "How do you cope"? I asked. "What choice do I have", he replied. He and I remain best of friends, and are considered happy optimistic people. Because we are.
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