The perfect storm. It’s a phrase we’ve been hearing all week, as the east coast hunkers down in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy. As we read the dire weather forecasts and watch the news feeds, nothing about this storm seems perfect.
Why do we call it “perfect”?
What does that even mean? Well, several circumstances are expected to come together to exacerbate the already potentially devastating effects of the hurricane – a cold weather front from the west, another from the north and, to top it off, a full moon that means that tides will be at their highest. And that’s why they call it a perfect storm. A bunch of circumstances come together at just the right (or wrong) time to brew up a big batch of badness.
I’ve been reading reports over the last couple days and checking in on east coast friends and the consensus seems to be that everyone is expecting the worst and planning accordingly. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. My friends have stocked in extra food, batteries and blankets. Some have evacuated to higher ground. While they’re worried, they’re ready. So I’ve been thinking a lot about perfect storms – weather related and otherwise.
Disaster Preparedness Info from Signs.com
In August, we posted an article to help you prepare your business for any kind of disaster (natural and other). To read about weather-related disaster preparedness, check this out: https://www.signs.com/blog/is-your-business-prepared-for-a-disaster/
All Kinds of Storms
So, this weather event that is hitting the east coast is the most literal of perfect storms. But our culture just loves metaphors, so we use the phrase to describe other events, too. If enough factors come together at just the wrong time, you could suffer your own personal storm. Here’s an eye-opening exercise to illustrate just how vulnerable we all are to perfect storms. Mix and match one or more items from each area to create a “storm:”
- Your rent goes up
- Your car breaks down
- You lose your wallet
- You lose your job
- The stock market crashes and you lose your investments
- The CEO takes off to Cancun with all the company’s money, including your retirement
- Your daughter just got accepted to Harvard (tuition $50k)
- Your wife buys that diamond necklace she’s always wanted, maxing out your credit card
- You get a promotion
- You get a demotion
- You have a huge project due
- The supplier goes out of business, leaving you with no product
- Your company announces future layoffs
- Your boss announces mandatory overtime
- Your administrative assistant quits
- An expensive piece of equipment breaks, stopping production
- Your significant other wants a divorce
- Your parent, sibling, spouse or child becomes seriously ill or injured
- You become seriously ill or injured
- You add a new baby to your family
- You move to a new home
- Someone you love dies
- Your house burns down
You can’t find your keys
Here’s an example: You forgot to check your oil, so on the way to work your engine seizes. You’re searching in vain for your wallet to pay the towing company when your wife calls to tell you that she just spent $5,000 at the jewelry store. You finally get to work, only to find that your administrative assistant has quit without notice and you have a huge project due later in the afternoon. As you sit down at your desk, your chair breaks and you fall to the floor, landing hard on your wrist, which breaks.
It will be impossible to complete your project if you can’t type on the computer, you’ll have to find a coworker to take you to the emergency room and you don’t have your health insurance card, because it’s in the wallet you can’t find. Ahhh . . . the perfect storm. To be sure, it’s nothing compared to the potential devastation of Hurricane Sandy. But it can still impact your life.
Preparing for all kinds of storms
Certainly, not all disasters can be averted. We can only prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Think about your circumstances and figure out ways to prepare in advance for perfect storms.
In our scenario above, there are several ways in which you might avert tragedy. First, you could put an alert in your phone to remind you to change your oil. And if you’re the type who constantly loses his wallet, you might keep a spare credit card or a few $20 bills in the glove compartment. Treat your administrative assistant to an occasional lunch and remind him how much you value his work. And hide your credit card from your wife, unless you’re cool with her running up the balance.
Today, we’re keeping our friends, family and customers on the east coast in our thoughts and wishing them the best as they brave their perfect storm.