One year ago on Super Bowl Sunday, I felt like my world was changed, dented, bruised, and altered forever. 365 days ago at 12:30 pm, I got the call that you never think about or expect. Frankly, I never thought getting this type of call was even a remote possibility. My business partner stopped by our office on a Sunday afternoon to grab something and called in the best panic/non-panic voice I’ve ever heard. “Chris, this is Chris, just get to the office now!”
I arrived in 5 minutes flat to see water rushing out our front door in a torrent. Our office was pitch black and cold. The noise and the smell — Oh, I can still remember it all vividly. Alarms, water rushing, lights flashing. The smell was that acrid burnt plastic or fork in the microwave smell. All-in-all it was just an onslaught to my senses. And to my emotions. Here I was, just hours away from enjoying our national holiday; watching the super bowl, eating wings and discussing the year’s best and worst commercials. And than WHAM! Fire and water are quite an unpleasant combination. Gnarly, actually. The damage kept us out of our office space for almost two months. And I lived through every single agonizing step with insurance company, landlords, electricians, plumbers, remediation crews, telecom and IT companies, furniture companies… You name it, we dealt with it.
BUT there is something amazing in all of this. It was the best possible thing to happen. In one of my new, favorite books, Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss, Chris writes, “everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that can happen to me. That when you find yourself in a trying situation, that’s when you go to work, reminding yourself of this truth and causing yourself to act as though whatever is causing the difficulty is for your maximum benefit.”
I know it is crazy, but we determine internally whether we are happy and how we respond to the world around us. On this fateful day I chose to lead. And to be happy. I had spent twenty years practicing leadership for challenges like this. This was my chance to show it and I recognized it immediately. And it was positively going to be the best possible thing. They were tough days and weeks and it was the hardest leadership time ever for me, but I liked it. People noticed. My staff noticed. And it turned out to be the best possible thing.
We had no choice but to alter how we do business. We made a hard left turn going really fast. We had to adopt new technologies over night. We had to risk. Some of my staff had to work from home and the rest piled into a small conference room where we could all hold hands at times.
What happened was a gift. CBI Group is stronger top to bottom. We have technological advantage. I know that CBI Group can survive and thrive in any environment, well, because we have. And I know it was my choice that day, to become negative and distressed or I could lead. And lead was the best possible thing.