September 11, 2001 noon PDT
My friends, Today we are Americans more than anything else. No more can we think merely as business people, speakers, neighbors or students. We must think as a nation of caring people. Our lives as well as our livelihoods have been endangered.
Now is a time for clear thinking. Now is a time to reflect on what we can do. The talents which have allowed us to be successful in various endeavors must now be reassessed for further use. This is a time to ask, “What am I good at? What could I do? What resources do I have?
Forgetting what you normally do, what can you now do to help:
- alleviate fears
- diminish panic
- prevent further damage
- plan beyond this crisis
- strengthen communication among your colleagues
- help people conquer their fears
Alexis de Tocqueville once observed that America’s strength lies in her ability to spontaneously organize to solve problems. Well, now is such a time.
If you are holding meetings: Now is a time to come together, not to stay apart. Don’t diminish communication, encourage it! Use your speakers as meeting leaders. Form a panel of your company leaders to answer questions and explore solutions. Allow your people to collaborate on best solutions. Facilitate level headed dialogue. Kill fears with information and reassurance.
We have enormous untapped strength. It lies in the collective wisdom and will of our people.
Life will ultimately return to “normal” but we don’t know exactly when or how. What we do know is that we will be the ones to cause it to happen. People still need the services we provide, and the goods that allow them to pursue their lives as before. Delivery methods, times, places may change but needs don’t go away in a crisis. They merely get postponed. Whether this is a crisis that lasts a week or much longer, it will ultimately pass. Lifestyles will adjust to the new realities, but life and business will go on. We must be focused on the present and building toward tomorrow at the same time.
Be that voice of reason, that calm assurance that your people need right now. Deal with the setbacks, face the new limitations and spoiledplans. But do it with an optimistic demeanor and an eye focused on the next steps beyond the crisis. In times of crisis leadership emerges from locations never considered before. Please allow that leadership to emerge. We are stronger than any crisis we can face.
May God Bless us all and God Bless America.