After many, many years of doing trial consulting work all over the place, we have amassed our share of travel war stories. One detail that readers of our posts will have noted is that we try to learn from everything that happens in order to do better the next time and we try to train staff who haven’t yet experienced the happening. Many years ago, Melissa experienced a hotel fire in the middle of the night that resulted in an evacuation of the hotel. One lesson learned was the need to “muster” as a team so that everyone knew all team members were safe and accounted for during the emergency. This happened another memorable time at a hotel in Ft. Myers. Late night, near midnight I think it was. Melissa and I had a great view from a top floor and were already asleep when the fire alarm sounded. We gathered our belongings and walked the stairs to the poolside area where all guests were being directed. Gradually, our team of 6 or 8 showed up and stood around in the dark, swatting the “no see ums” that were biting. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, but it reinforced the need to train everyone to look for each other, to understand that being part of a team means looking out for one’s team members. That night, a couple of the team members had found each other but didn’t immediately seek out the rest of us. Thus, a new item for the training manual was born.
The concept of what it means to be a member of a team is lost on some people. In today’s world of “it’s all about me, myself, and I” or, as George Harrison wrote, “I Me Mine,” some people are too busy thinking about maximizing their best interests to realize that other people are depending on them to help, particularly in a crisis, such as the hotel fires David mentioned. Sure, everyone has a duty to look out for themselves, but as soon as each team member knows he/she is safe, then it’s time to check on one’s team mates to be sure they, too, are safe. The callous selfishness of some people is appalling to me. Truly appalling. I prefer to surround myself with people who will lend me a helping hand instead of those who care little about my survival. Emergencies and crises have a unique way of “separating the wheat from the chaff,” so to speak. People’s true natures are revealed not during the best of times, but during the worst. When there is an emergency, help yourself, then ensure those around you are safe and, if someone needs your help, then rise to the occasion by helping. And, if you are part of a team, whether it is a work team, a sports team, or another cohesive group, be sure that you are the kind of team member on whom everyone can count, especially during a crisis. Doing anything less is, in my view, inexcusable.