True North Alliance - Team Development Training


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Fight, Flight OR...?

Chess Edwards

When the wind is calm, the skies are clear and the path is wide, most teams are able to function reasonably well together. There’s a degree of latitude that allows a team to stray a few yards off the path of perfect teamwork.

Clearly we’re no longer enjoying the sunny slopes of the summit bid. Today organizations have been pushed to the razor’s edge where each choice represents a crucial step that could be the difference between high spirited success or a nasty fall from heights painstakingly attained.


It’s all about choices - Conscious, Critical, Courageous Choices.


Fight - Flight - Or...? When circumstances turn dire, fight or flight are reactionary responses that are hard wired into us sometimes not so complicated human beings. When the storm descends upon the summit team, when the pressure is on, when resources are lean, when survival is at stake - human beings are designed to protect themselves. Fight for survival or head for the hills. Dive for cover and abandon the team or put on the battle gear and take on all comers, including those very same team members.


We can choose to take advantage of this opportunity of adversity to not only become the best we have ever been, but to actually thrive and emerge stronger than ever before.


Now is the time to challenge ourselves, those whom we lead and even those who lead us to make the choices that support the best in us all. Now is the time to engage in the direct conversations that inspire us to embrace our highest ideals even under powerful influences of fear and uncertainty.


Even a cursory glance out the wind whipped tent door, or holding a damp finger up into the gale force wind will reveal that the storm isn’t coming - it has clearly arrived - in full force. Like most storms that engulf intrepid adventurers, we don’t know how long this one is going to last or if its going to get even worse.

Our best bet is to ensure that our people possess the attitudes, perspectives, communication skills and shared sense of values that will allow them to make wise choices which strengthen the team and support the integrity of the organization.

Joseph Campbell, mythologist and author of “Hero With a Thousand Faces” advises that the darkest of storms is the ultimate scenario that boldly reveals:

  • Our Allies
  • Our Power
  • Our Faith

And only through great adversity are we truly able to discover these three critical elements of success with such clarity and put them into action with such conviction.

When the storm clears, the organizations whose teams failed to take on the challenge of conscious choice may have survived, but very possibly with critically damaged relationships and seriously eroded trust. These organizations will start to hemorrhage their best talent the moment the job market allows.


Organizations that focus equal attention on both business strategies and people strategies will emerge with teams that are stronger, more connected, collaborative and bonded than ever before. These organizations will begin to hire top talent from the organizations that were torn apart in the storm. They will hire into a culture that is acutely self aware of who they are, what they believe and what specific skills, attitudes and core values lead consistently to success. And they will be able to articulate this value system to the new members of their teams with clarity, conviction and passion.


We will all likely suffer some casualties. We will lose a few extremities to the bitter realities of the storm and may have to descend down the mountain a bit with prudent care. But we can still step fully into the face of these challenges with a collective consciousness of camaraderie, sacrifice and compassion. With correct action we can be assured that the people to our left and to our right will survive as proud members of a team that made courageous choices at the height of the darkest of storms.

It may not be an easy year ahead. But it is certainly going to be filled with amazing opportunities to live, work and create at our very best.


Take Action

  • Schedule 10-15 minute appointments with peers and colleagues with the specific agenda to talk about:
  • What are our core people strategy values that will allow our community to grow stronger from adversity?
  • What are the fear based human reactions that we need to avoid?
  • How do we keep these critical conversations about core values at the forefront of our decision making processes?
    • These conversations may seem contrived! But I guarantee that after 10 minutes you will find yourselves saying, “I’m glad we're having this conversation.” And you will notice a difference in the quality of your decisions.

  • Make it clear to those you lead that people will be rewarded as much for how they achieve their successes as for the successes themselves.
  • A path to success that leaves a wake of broken relationships and damaged trust is not acceptable and diminishes the chances for future successes.
  • A path to success that emulates and exemplifies your cultures core values and creates a stronger team will be acknowledged and rewarded.

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