We were all taught as kids these three actions when faced with a fire emergency, and recently I have been thinking about how analogous they are to the phrase “fighting fires” in business.
We all know what fire-fighting means in this context – all of us have lived through this to some extent at one point in time. Fire-fighting is when you feel like there are a million fires that need urgent attention at once, and they are all critical. You end up running around like a chicken with your head cut off, never stopping to think about anything long term. You just move from fire to fire, trying to put each one out until it comes back to life after you leave it smoldering.
Similarly, I think we could all use a little instruction to stop, drop, and roll in business as well as in real life. STOP to think, DROP the anxiety about the latest fire, and ROLL with your thoughts and collect your emotions.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times when you will have to don the suit, pick up a hatchet and the fire hose, and get to work putting out fires. There are times in all businesses when that is required for the business to survive. What all too often happens is that fire-fighting becomes the norm, and you lose sight of the future. This is very easy to do in a small business like ours, and it is tough to resist the temptation. But, I believe that we can all step back, collect our thoughts, and come out all the better for it.