Take a Leadership Cue From Nature: Earthquakes

by | Mar 16, 2019 | Blog Series, Development, Leadership, Management, Perspective, Reflection, Relationships, Self-awareness, Self-Care, Team

This is the sixth installment in an eight-week series called Take a Leadership Cue From Nature, using naturally occurring phenomena from the world around to illustrate how—if we’re not careful—we can let circumstances undermine our leadership effectiveness. Maybe that thing we’re sensing may not be so strange after all…

I recently had dinner with some folks from San Francisco. As a Floridian, it was amusing trading stories about how jokingly “you just get used to” our most common natural disasters: hurricanes and earthquakes.

Personally, I’ll take a hurricane over an earthquake any day. Earthquakes are one of the most destructive events on the planet. Most of us know what earthquakes are: The movement between adjacent tectonic plates. I’m guessing we’re less conscious of the pressure buildup that causes earthquakes.

When the plates “stick” to each other, pressure builds until they finally “unstick”—which is usually violent. As a point of reference, the energy released in a magnitude 7.0 earthquake is equivalent to around 50 nuclear weapons. We grow accustomed to the ground beneath us being secure. When it’s suddenly not, life gets really unstable.

And Your Point Is…?

It’s never good to let unnecessary pressure build up on the most important things in your life.

We grow accustomed to the ground beneath us being secure. When it’s suddenly not, life gets really unstable.

So What?

There are two ideas here:

  1. The build-up of stress and pressure
  2. Knowing what’s foundationally important for you

First, let’s talk about pressure. Of course it’s relative: People experience pressure at different levels, and some of us create pressure unnecessarily.

But we all must equip ourselves to deal with it. Get away from your work. Develop a hobby, spend time with family and friends doing something everyone enjoys. Schedule it in your calendar if you have to, like you would for any other important event—because it is.

I find my pressure relief in cycling and practicing my faith. Cycling (aside from the health benefits) allows time for reflection and clears my head. My faith centers me on what’s real, true and eternal, orienting me to things beyond the daily issues and putting life/work in perspective.

Next comes your foundation. This includes anything you lean upon for stability, direction, conviction, capability, clarity. If you don’t know what your foundation is, a values exercise is a great place to start. Perhaps the most foundational things in life—that are often given the least amount of attention—are the relationships we have with people.

Schedule it in your calendar if you have to, like you would for any other important event—because it is.

The Big Picture

“If I could have a life do-over, I’d spend more time doing what I love with the people I love.” I regularly hear some version of this from wise people I’ve learned to trust. If you have ears to hear, listen.

“If I could have a life do-over, I’d spend more time doing what I love with the people I love.”

Your Next Step

What’s one thing you can do to relieve pressure on/around the things you most value?

Want more leadership insights?

Check out: 

Taking the Lead - What Riding a Bike Can Teach You About Leadership

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