California is no stranger to wildfires. In fact, this past week Northern California has had to battle some pretty dangerous wildfires. The scariest thing about wildfires is they can occur with no warning at all! However, these blazes are a reminder to always be prepared in the case of any fire.
Although the Academy offices are far from the fires of Northern California, we still practice fire drills so we know what to do in the event something happens. These fire drills, like actual fires, happen spontaneously. As I took the time to memorize the steps for our fire drill I had an “AHA” moment. In businesses and in life, we also run into “fires” or mini-emergencies. We can handle these mini-emergencies exactly as we would approach a fire.
As the Peak Performer Program Coordinator, I plan and prepare three meetings every year exclusively for our Peak Program Members. The events are always a success, but I would be lying if I told you the planning and preparing is smooth and effortless. During the weeks before any meeting, I may have to handle a few (or many) “fires”. In the case of these mini-emergencies, I take my fire drill knowledge and work through every emergency using the following steps:
- Grab what is most important – Has anyone ever asked you what would be the first thing you would take if your house ever caught on fire? When you’re faced with an emergency, start by asking yourself, “What is the most important item to complete first?” With the Peak Performers meeting, I have several items on my checklist to get done, but I look through my list and find what is most important to get done first.
- Walk, don’t run! – During a drill, the first instinct many have is to get the heck out of the building. Next thing you know, someone is falling down or trampling other people to get out. Sometimes running can be more harmful than efficient. If you are faced with an emergency, don’t hurry the process even though it may feel necessary. By rushing through the issue, odds are the job will not be done well and someone will have to go back and redo it.
- In case of emergency, take the stairs – When emergency items pop up, it is easy to take the shorter, or easier route, but it is important to take the stairs, or in this case, make sure you follow all of the necessary and previously outlined steps. For our Peak meetings, we try to have our materials completed early. However, there are instances when changes need to be made and I have to go into fire drill mode to make sure all the materials are updated. My first thought is to forget about making the changes, we can explain to our Members we had a last-minute change, but then I remember my commitment to the Members – I want to give them the best experience at their meetings. So, I go through all of the materials and make the changes that need to be made! It may take me longer but in the end, the Members are happy they have everything they need.
- Make sure everyone is accounted for – After the fire drill, there is someone designated to make sure everyone is out of the building and accounted for. The same is necessary when you have worked through your mini-emergency. Take a look at what needed to get done, check off the steps that were required. Is everything taken care of? If so, you can focus on your next priority without having any lingering thoughts on whether or not your emergency was handled well. By going back and looking at how the emergency arose in the first place, you can also plan how to avoid the same (or similar) emergency situation in the future.
Putting out fires in your business or life does not have to be stressful. By using the structure of a fire drill, problems can be solved in a more efficient, reliable and composed manner.
On a related note: If you are interested in helping out those in Northern California who have been affected by the wildfires, click here to find ways to help.
Peak Performers Program Coordinator
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128