A seagoing captain commanded a passenger ship sailing from Liverpool, England, to New York. His family was on board with him. One night, when everyone was asleep, a squall unexpectedly swept over the waters and tossed the ship violently, awakening the passengers. They were all terribly afraid because of the storm. 

The captain’s little 8-year-old girl was also awakened. “What’s the matter?” cried the frightened child.

Her mother told her that a sudden storm had struck the ship.

“Is Father on deck?” she asked.

Her mother responded, “Yes, Father’s on deck.”

Hearing this, the little girl found solace in her father’s presence. She snuggled back into her bed and, in a few moments, was sound asleep. The winds still blew and the waves still rolled, but her fears were calmed because her father was at the helm, guiding them through the storm.

Why not aspire to inspire that level of confidence in people if you are a leader in your job? If you are on a lower rung of the work ladder, why not seek to do the kind of job so that those around you feel better in crisis knowing that you are on the job?

How do you inspire this kind of confidence in your co-workers? There are many ways, but for brevity’s sake, let me select three.

  1. Strive to become excellent at what you do. 

Research it, practice it, and set aside some time after hours to improve your craft (General Colin Powell famously said, “Always do your job–and then some.)

  1. Remain cool during times of crisis. President Franklin Roosevelt was well-known for his vitality and energy. Yet, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, his aids later recalled, it seemed like an eerie calm descended upon him. As the disastrous news poured on that tragic day, FDR was already calmly dictating his speech to Congress for the next day. Slowly and deliberately, he dictated his words, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941…a date…which will live…in infamy….” While everyone around him was on high alert, fueled by adrenaline, the president’s central nervous system seemed to slow down. This had a tremendous calming effect on his administration members as they prepared to declare war.
  1. To the best of your ability, demonstrate confidence. If necessary, fake it.

Many years ago, I was coordinating a youth event with several high-energy middle school and elementary students. Minutes before it began, I was notified that a 12-year-old girl was shutting down. A few days earlier, she had been raped, and the fog of her tragedy was lifting. I was standing with the college student in charge of the event and a local farmer who was a volunteer. As we received the news from the police in real time about what was happening, it became clear that we had to distract the kids while the young lady was to be discreetly escorted from the premises to receive help. My job was to help get the girl out. The college student’s job was to speak to the kids, lead them in songs, and do anything to keep them focused. The student was overwhelmed and emotionally melted. I looked to the farmer, who had no training for keeping kids engaged in a public forum. He said very simply, “We’ll take care of it.” And he did. I will never forget that farmer. From that day on, he could be my captain any time.

The workplace needs steady captains at the helm. Be that captain for someone else.

 Author of Holy Chaos How To Walk with God in a Frenzied World

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