There is a condition that I’ve learned to value deeply. It’s the condition of calm. In fact, I call it the power of calm, and I’m eager to see it more fully permeate my own life and the lives of the leaders I influence.

By calm I do not mean stoic. I do not mean “shut down” or unemotional. Instead, I’m referring to a state in which a person is fully engaged and at the same time fully at peace and balanced. They are rightly poised to handle anything that comes their way.

When I envision a leader in this state, I think of them as instantly in touch with all the stabilizing factors in their lives. I suppose airline pilots and ship captains have language for this condition in their professions.

If a plane is flying level, at the right altitude, dialed into the right signals, guided by the right tower, and all instruments indicate the right conditions, then this is the pilot’s version of “the power of calm.”

If a ship is on the right course, at the right tonnage, with all the depth it needs below, with all systems on board where they should be, and all crew healthy and rightly deployed, then that ship is exhibiting what I think of as the “power of calm.” Both the plane and the ship are ready to handle whatever comes.

It is much the same with healthy leaders. Let’s say I’m about to face a crisis. Let’s say that ten minutes before I learn of the crisis, I’m calm. I know who I am. I have the benefit of my experience. I trust God completely. I am certain of my team. My prior work is done. I’ve lived in integrity. I don’t have a girlfriend outside my marriage, I’m not hiding pot in my backpack, and I don’t have a series of angry, broken relationships trailing me. I am who I present myself to be. I am solidly living my life according to my values. I am stabilized by my God, my team, my integrity, my confidence in myself, and in what my history has produced in me.

Consider the opposite. A crisis comes and I flip out. I’m knocked completely off balance. I’m filled with fear. I respond with anger and blame. I throw everybody into a nervous stir. I am anything but reassuring by my presence, and I end up making the whole situation worse. I’m out of touch with my God, have no confidence in the lessons of my experience, doubt my team, fear the future, and cannot lead. This is not calm. It is un-calm. It is dis-ease.

Effective leaders are always in touch with their stabilizing factors, always aware of the indicators of health. They don’t let themselves get permanently out of synch or off-balance. They keep themselves on the beam of their optimal performance. Then, when crisis comes or challenge approaches, they know who they are and how to respond. Their calm inspires leadership in others. They defy crisis rather than let it rule them.

Do a systems check. Are all systems go? Are you living according to the right signals, in synch with God and the principal people of your life? Are you the person you present yourself to be, possessing the skills you ought to have, given your history? If so, then you can live in calm. If not, reset your systems. Reacquire the signals. Align yourself rightly. Calm will pervade your life and remain with you when the challenge comes.

That’s it. Have a good weekend. And keep on rockin’ Notre Dame!

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