100-YEAR COLORADO FLOOD BRINGS FIVE LESSONS and GOOD QUESTIONS
November 21, 2013
We call it the 100-year flood. Others are calling it the 1000-year rain. Northern Colorado, and especially Boulder County, was hit hard. What started as an exceptionally warm and dry month of September became the wettest month in Colorado history. The National Weather Service recorded rainfall amounts exceeding 8 inches in Boulder on September 12, and amounts exceeding 4 inches the next day. The result: four dead in Boulder County, hundreds of homes destroyed, thousands of homes damaged, thousands of people displaced, and millions of dollars in damage to roads and bridges. Another result was that people learned profound lessons.
FIVE LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE 100-YEAR FLOOD.
- Prioritize. This flood has given the opportunity to question: What are the important things in life? What are your priorities? Take a look at what is most meaningful to you. Discern your values.
- Pivot. Be open to change. Many a mountain river or creek totally changed its course as its overflowing water sought the fastest way to escape downhill and carved a new path. Some roads and bridges were washed out as a result and now the civil engineers are contemplating how to rebuild inline with the new course. What pivots can you take that will help you go with the flow?
- Prepare. Our home had just a little water that came in the basement through a window well; many of our neighbors were flooded badly with basements requiring complete do-overs. Was this luck? I call it preparation. The first owner of our house experienced a small flood soon after taking ownership; he took appropriate action which served us well even today. He brought in experts and did what the builder should have done knowing the location of this house close to downhill water drainage. The experts put in a French drain which was buried around the foundation wall on the external side of the foundation, an exterior sump pump, and alarm should the system encounter more water than it could handle. We also had our back-up pump on hand. Oprah Winfrey reminds us, “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” What preparation can you do now so that you can create better luck in your business and personal life?
- Take Action. When opportunity or disaster hits, make a decision on how to respond and then act. Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great and co-author of the new book Great by Choice, states “Luck, good and bad, happens to everyone, whether we like it or not. When we look at 10xers [companies that are 10 times more successful than expected] we see people who recognize luck and seize it, leaders who grab lucky events and make much more of them.” Take advantage of the circumstances. For example, the alarm went off from our sump pump at midnight September 11 and we were able to take immediate action for the next few hours when 10 inches of water had filled one of our basement window wells. What action should you take now with your business and life?
- Surround Yourself with Proper People. Since our house was in good shape, we and many other neighbors spent the next few days helping others divert water flow, siphon water out of precarious ponds that was collecting next to houses, give encouragement, pump water out of basements, and remove damaged goods. The next morning when we got to the house of one neighbor, who was away traveling, we found that their sump pump, improperly installed, was pumping water INTO the basement. By cutting off their power, we were able to stop more damage. There are hundreds of cases where neighbors came to the rescue. Less than a mile from our house, a mud slide without warning hit a house perched on the side of a hill. The wife got out before the house collapsed, but the husband who went in the basement to grab his computer backup drive was trapped. 911 could not respond quickly enough because they were overwhelmed with other calls. The woman found neighbors to immediately come over with jack saws and other tools to save the man. Two blocks from our house a fire fighter driving to work down a road that had turned into a river, helped a man climb to safety. The man was hanging on for dear life to a tree as he tried to escape from his car. They then came back with more neighbors and saved a woman in the car. Two teenagers from that same car were swept away to their death. As Jim Collins would say, “Do you have the right people on your bus?” If not, with whom should you surround yourself?
SUMMARY. The 100-year flood is hopefully a once in a life-time event. It brings an opportunity to ask, “Are you living the life you want? If not, prioritize, pivot, prepare, take action, and surround with proper people. Life is short. Follow your heart, in harmony with your head and hands. Live your passion. Enjoy the process. Begin now!
Theresa M. Szczurek (www.TMSworld.com; www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose; www.RadishSystems.com