Opportunity in Chaos

A little over a month ago, just as I had recovered from COVID, I dropped a 600 lb case of equipment across my foot, breaking my 5th metatarsal pretty good. I’ve been in a boot ever since and will for another two months as I write this.

Immediately the world looked different from my perspective. I’d never spent time considering just how to deal with stairs before breaking my foot. Now it was one of the most concerning things. How do I take a shower now? Or get in and out of my truck? All new problems to solve. In the last five weeks, I’ve gone from crutches to a combination of Scooter and Peg Leg, depending on what I need to do. It’s been challenging, as many things take much more effort to accomplish, not to mention the pain.

I’ve gotten better at other things too. I can get across our manufacturing plant faster than ever before. Since getting around takes more effort, I’m more efficient at deciding when best to move and what I can do without needing to move. I’ve become more focused and efficient, much more aware of my surroundings and perhaps most of all, more introspective of the process of change, and what to expect. For that, I’m thankful for the experience.

All of Texas is going through that right now. This last week of winter weather in Texas has brought untold damage and heartache for all who call Texas home. Texas isn’t unique though. All of us will certainly face our share of disaster, heartache, loss, and challenge. We don’t have the choice to completely avoid challenges in our lives. What we do with those challenges is the important question.

Last week, a famous person was quoted as saying, “God was mad” at Texas. I beg to differ. For those familiar with such things, God promised challenges like these. I’ll leave the “Why would he do that” question for another time and, rather than engage in socio-political rants, let me share what good has already been found in the last week.

Crowds have flocked to our local grocer, H-E-B, to grab food while there was food to be gotten. There were no riots and no angry mobs. We can maintain our societal composure in trying times. Perhaps this week, it’s good to be reminded of that.

At several stores, the power went out while crowds were shopping. The check-out lines became non-functional. All had to leave the store – but get this: H-E-B let them leave with the groceries they had, without paying.

As water lines started breaking all over our community, locals took it upon themselves to hand make tools to turn water lines off and make them available across social media to the community to assist in minimizing damage. Others figured out how to acquire meals for hundreds and, with a simple post on social media letting the community know, served so many of our community that had little food while stores were closed.

A furniture store owner opened his store up since he still had power, to those who had lost power and water, to rest until their service was restored.

No one told these folks to do these things. Amid chaos, these folks found an opportunity to serve. They are role models I look to in how to deal with challenges and challenging times.

Ultimately, this too shall pass. Weather, the Pandemic, and whatever personal challenges we all face. And when they do, what will be considered “normal” will be different than what it was before. Nothing stays the same forever. Rather than lamenting that fact, challenges hold the seeds to serve, improve, and grow. Recognizing the “Opportunity in Chaos” and acting upon it is the road for each of us to re-define a “better normal.”

We are stepping up the application of that lesson at Hiller. We’ve been challenged before and will be again. Our mission isn’t and will never be to defend our status quo but instead to use difficult times, problems, and challenging situations to enhance our expectations, people, and process in response to the opportunities we find. I look forward to sharing more about what we’re learning (hint: it’s all tied up within HMFC) in the near future.