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The voice of reason

Saturday 14 November 2009 at 5:32 pm

Leaders can sometimes find themselves in situations where things get out of control.  Recently, my wife and I volunteered to watch kids as they played in an inflatable bounce house.  They would enter the bounce house and start bouncing around and when finished would climb the inflatable wall to slide out the other end.

The previous year as the kids were bouncing things got out of control.  The bounce house deflated collapsing on the kids inside, breaking a few bones.  For the record, we were not there the previous year and only found out about this after we received our assignment. 

My role was to watch the kids as they bounced and climbed the wall.  My wife watched them as they slid out the back end.  The rules required no shoes, glasses, flips, bouncing off the sides or bumping into one another and sliding feet first.  Oh, and the age group was 7 to 12 years old.  The maximum number of kids at one time was limited to five.  As you can imagine when you get that many creative, energetic minds and bodies in one area you have your hands full. 

I had to keep track of the number of kids inside and monitor what they were doing.  I had to correct "rules" violations.  I had to allow enough time for the kids to play without creating a long line of kids waiting to get in.  I learned that when I needed to send in a new batch I had to tell the kids inside to climb the wall and slide out.  It worked and there were few complaints.  As they played they starting creating a game within a game.  I had to monitor more aggressive bouncing and wall climbing.  At one point, it became a little more frenetic and I sensed potential disaster so I called for everyone to stop and climb the wall.  They immediately came back to consciousness, settled down, climbed the wall and a potential disaster was averted.  But, they were back soon to try again.  It was an intense 3 hours being the voice of reason.  However, all is well that ends well.  There were no casualties and everyone had fun!    

Whether in government, education, religion, or business things become frenetic, in fact, count on it.  For example, the financial crisis that began in 2007 ballooned into the Great Recession of 2009.  Leaving many fearful it would escalate into a depression.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  Why?  Some may believe it is due to the fiscal policies of the Fed and that may have contributed.  However, the biggest factor I believe is when credible people offer a voice of reason.  One such person was Warren Buffett.  In September 2009, he stated that he believed the U.S. economy was past the critical point.  That is all Wall Street and others needed to hear and people began to have more confidence.  The Dow has had a few volatile times but has been on an upward trend since then.

It is interesting the recession of 2009 and recessions that occurred in 1980, 1990 and early 2000 are each referred to as the Great Recession.  What this says to me, at least on the economy, is the voices of reason were drowned out or ignored until a crisis hit.  It is a function of leadership not to let that happen.  Who do you think are some of the voices of reason today in government, education, religion, and business, etc?

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