Maintain the Morale High Ground
This final installment of lessons learned in our three part series will be focused on morale. How to keep morale high when the situation is tough or challenging.
Everyone’s Experience Was Different
I spoke with so many people over the last couple of weeks who described their own situation and challenges. It seems the snow storm hit everyone slightly different. Whether it was the length of time they were without power or water or both. How the cold was difficult to manage or even in some cases their supplies ran dangerously close to being exhausted. It is hard to see the positive in those moments, but when survival is on the line your inability to keep a positive attitude can greatly alter the outcome of the ordeal. All lessons learned aside, this is the big one when you are in a true survival situation.
I have been in some pretty bad situations, I have seen some pretty bad things. We all have at some point in our lives. The hope is we learn from these events and it makes us a better person or at least better prepared. No matter what we learned as long as we learned something. Lessons learned early on where how brutal the elements could be in a special operations career. Not that others don’t have it bad, but we literally foam at the mouth when the weather gets bad. It means everyone else will be suffering as well, but they will seek comfort. They will be seeking the easy way out or not be paying attention or fail to perform because they are miserable. Perfect conditions to be a frogman.
Morale Is A Commodity
Keeping morale high is a sign of true leadership. It doesn’t mean you pretend things are not bad. You fully recognize how bad they are and instead try to find the good. If you think of morale as a commodity then you want to stock up on it, make deposits when you can. You are going to making a lot of withdrawals and if you didn’t have a decent cache you may find your situation that much harder. In the past I have seen this done using three strategies; support, encouragement and laughter. Each person will process their emotional and physical challenges differently so one of the best thing you can do is be supportive. If nothing else recognizing their hardship and letting them know we are all in it together can go a long way. A kind word of encouragement can go a long way towards being supportive as well. Everyone could benefit from a little confidence boast here and there.
Laughter Is A Secret Weapon
Probably the most valuable I have seen is laughter. It is my secret weapon during hard times and it is super contagious. You could be so miserable that even misery would seem like a vacation. A little joke or comment and the positive effect of laughing can change things in a heartbeat. I can remember on more than one occasion cracking a joke during a dark time. It is amazing to see what a smile and belly laugh can do to morale. I have been fortunate to have some great leaders during those awkward moments be able to crack a joke. You kind of forget no matter how fleeting the miserable conditions. It helps keep things in perspective and then allows you to refocus on the task at hand.
There are plenty of strategies for helping morale, but one thing is for sure. During a survival event you want morale to be high, if for no other reason than why not have a good time.