Find calm during the storm


firefighters on a ridge

I recently went through a health crisis. I had already gone through the same fear three times before, but it seemed more terrible. With each test the tensions increased, the crisis worsened. However, amidst the chaos, I had the opportunity to find deep peace like never before. In "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity", David Allen explains how the crisis conjures up serenity – a point where you are fully present and at peace in the midst of a crisis.

To choose "Leading with courage "was the theme of the inaugural wildfire leadership campaign. The days of crisis are coming. Firefighters will be placed in difficult positions and asked to transport their organizations through the rough waters. It may take some time before the crisis subsides, so what tools can we give our leaders to develop "the art of stress-free productivity"?

Video highlights:

  • "The crisis can produce a kind of calm that is rare to find sometimes. Why? It demands it!"
  • All other issues are put on the back burner, allowing the individual to be fully present.
  • Doing something is an appropriate commitment.
  • The crisis requires us to engage appropriately.
  • Get comfortable with the paradoxes:
    • Paradox # 1: To manage all the complexities and tricks of your life, you need three basic principles that you understand and apply:
    • Paradox # 2: Initial movements and behaviors and best practices in this area can most likely seem troublesome, unnatural, or unnecessary.
    • Paradox # 3: some very specific but seemingly mundane behaviors when applied produce the ability to exist in a sort of sophisticated spontaneity.
  • Things to consider and what to do:
    • Time is not the problem.
      • Increase your psychic bandwidth – space to think – so that your creative energies can emerge.
    • The mess is cool.
      • However, if you are already in a creative mess, you do not have the freedom to create one.
    • Nature lessons:
      • Lesson # 1: Flexibility trumps perfection.
      • Lesson # 2: You need to be able to quickly shift your attention inward, outward, up and down quickly and present each change.
      • Lesson # 3: Being able to focus exactly where you need it and how you need it: focused attention
    • The keys to success:

      • Key # 1: Capture your thinking, then notice what you will notice.
      • Key # 2: Make decisions about results / actions, then write down what you notice.
      • Key # 3: use the right cards, then notice what you will notice.

Discover “Deep Psychology: The Quiet Way to Wisdom” by Ted Putnam, U.S. Forest Service (retired) and Paul Gleason Lead by Example award recipient.


This blog was first published on February 4, 2013 as part of the “Leading with Courage” campaign.

Pam McDonald is a writer and editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and a member of the NWCG Leadership Committee. The expressions are those of the author.