When Things Go Bad – Good

You can’t always control how things happen, but you can always own how you react to it. As chaotic, unpredictable and ultimately violent as the initial surprise or event may be, whatever it may be, by staying calm and focused you can usually direct, identify and plan for the outcome.

Life shouldn’t go your way, it’d be super boring if it did.

A famous quote says “Life is 10% what happens to you, 90% of how you react to it.” Another famous quote says “Goonies never say die!” I tend to say “Sometimes the most bad ass thing you can do is get back up.” Most people just refer to it as being optimistic versus pessimistic, and at it’s simplest its very much just that. But if you’re neither a half full or half empty type of person or you’re finding yourself more aligned with the actions of the Fratteli’s vs Mikey or Mouth, here’s some acronyms to help break down and guide your reaction positively. (Another Goonie reference, boom!)


#1 Need in a survival situation? Positive mental attitude.


Always OODA, Never ‘WIMPP’

The military refers to it as the OODA loop. OODA for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. In this approach you stay calm, methodical and in control of the situation, and more importantly – yourself. You may be subject to pre-established beliefs or feelings, however by remaining calm you recognize the bias these may be causing and adjust / frame your decisions accordingly, avoiding any tunnel vision problems where you lose sight of the overall picture. Breathe, take in all the information you can, and find a positive maneuver to embark on. Rinse, repeat.

Or are you part of my self-coined ‘W.I.M.P.P’ loop, for “Whiny, Immature, Martyr Pity Party.” Yell, scream, rant to whatever social media will listen and generally seek out Ego Kleenex to validate your poor, battered self and the wrong being done to you. Everyone should know how victimized you are!! This unjust will not stand! Poor you! Your emotions cause you to succumb to fear and nervousness and you eventually choose to respond by going full tantrum on whoever or whatever you have decided ‘peed in your cornflakes.’ Instead of actually trying to fix the situation you end up paralyzing any progress in order to prove how right you think you are.

Real Life

In my experience both professionally and SAR / EMS related, I’ve learned the best leaders tend to not react impulsively or emotionally when confronted or surprised. Even if you’re a leader with no physical troops, consider your attitude your army. It’s okay to feel a little fear, anger or nervousness, but keep it calm, cool, collected and confident. Keep your troops in check. This manifests a positive outcome.

10-80-10 rule.

“In any disaster situation 10% of the people are simply done for.

80% of the people will be looking for a leader to save them,

and the remaining 10% will be those leaders.”

Be one of the leading 10%.

As an IT Professional, you are often confronted with ‘major’ crashes, whether they be server, system or user based. You’ll see coworkers completely freak, lose their composure and panic, which ultimately renders them useless at that point. That’s typically when bad things get worse. Also, what does that say about that coworker who is losing their minds over an issue? Is that all it takes to break you? Bad code, configuration or an ‘user ooopsie’ has never killed anyone to my knowledge. It may cost money, it may cost data, but running around screaming or panicking won’t stop that.

Instead, keep your wits about you, grab a keyboard and get to work. Be part of the leading 10% that will save the day. Look at it as a positive, a chance for your to shine, show off your skills, and most likely learn a new way to troubleshoot or identify a problem. If the problem is bigger than you, delegate out to the 80% of folk desperate for a leader.

When something bad happens, find a way to frame it positively.

We recently had a huge crash late on a Friday with one of our major UNIX hosts. Multiple enterprise apps went down including our ability to process credit cards. Tickets started piling in. As it was late on a Friday we had a limited staff of about 5 folks and our supervisor was also out on vacation. Noticing the absence of leadership, I took stepped in a took the reins. “Good, let’s see what we got.” I immediately started delegating tasks and areas of responsibility and ultimately we resolved the issue in 20-30 minutes, the large amount of that time being needed by the UNIX folks to get the physical servers back on-line. We took a problem, and calmly responded to a real-life disaster response opportunity. Our team did great, or better, “Good.”

Know that the outcome can and will be positive, even if it takes time to show up.

When I was cut from my first SAR team I immediately felt victimized. I immediately wanted to lash out and convey how unjust that was. Instead, I stayed calm, kept training, kept working out and kept as positive as I could. I took that negative energy and used it to positively focus on the areas I felt I needed to improve, and because of this response, I was afforded the opportunity to continue SAR work with additional teams, and ultimately work above and beyond what I thought were my capabilities with my first SAR team. Looking back, getting cut was one of the best things for my SAR career. It matured me and my calm response opened up huge opportunities, or at the very least didn’t close them down. “Good.”

Understand that things can and will go bad, things won’t go as you expect and Murphy always gets a vote. So what?! As you’ll watch below, “Good.”

Bad is Good.

There is no better explanation of this attitude than the video below by SEAL Jocko Willink. I heard about Jocko Willink on the SOFREP podcast, and immediately went out and bought the audio of his and Leif Babin’s book – “Extreme Ownership.” I’ve since also subscribed to his Podcast and eagerly look forward to all the content he pushes out.

In my opinion, this video puts into words and images what volumes upon volumes of Personal Development, Motivational or other ‘growth’ oriented content aims to do. It’s clear, conscise and simple. One of the best things I’ve seen on the topic, and YouTube for that matter. Watch it daily, scribble it on your bathroom mirror. “Good.”


So get up, dust off, and go get after it. Check out Jocko’s FacebookJocko’s TwitterJocko’s Instagram, and for god sake…

Let some bad happen.