How to remain calm when all around you there is chaos

[It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Jamie who is a guitar teacher, writer and blogger who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his boring retail job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created Psycholocrazy to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm! Go ahead and grab his free 33 page ebook and find out how to quit your job and live life on your own terms too. To guest post on my blog, click here.]

I am what you would call a reluctant leader. On the outside I come across as somewhat shy, maybe a little reclusive but that is just a façade, a ruse to lure people in and convince them that I know what I am doing.

Now that just makes me sound dodgy… I’ll rephrase that. I lead by example, not by shouting or by showing off. I don’t think that people want to work with a leader who is constantly on edge, wearing their emotions on their sleeve and on the brink of self-destruction.

Yes, I can appear somewhat timid to those who don’t know me but to believe that I am lacking in tenacity would be a mistake.

I like to think that I know what I am doing, at least some of the time (don’t tell anyone). The thing is, you wouldn’t know by just looking at my face the emotions that I am feeling underneath. I am a mask –an outer shell with a complex core.

When I am struggling, I manage to keep it together. Is that ok?

All leaders have their bad days. The best ones are those who can maintain the illusion of authority and influence. They simply do not lose belief in the eyes of their students, followers or colleagues.

We are all human. Yet the world is chaotic. Billions of life forms are competing for the right to exist.

The leaders of this world – like you and I – must power through whatever obstacles are in our path. People rely on us for our knowledge, our ability to take them forwards and to keep them safe from any negative influences. When their world goes down the toilet, we have to be there to pick them up and to carry them over the finish line.

It doesn’t matter what is going on inside our heads… we have to remain strong. If we feel weakness, we must not show it. If we feel scared, we must move forwards. If we want to give up, we must succeed.

Being a leader is more than telling someone what to do.

Being a leader is more than a title.

It’s simply the ability to remain calm when all around you there is chaos.

Question: What qualities do you want to see in a leader?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • My husband has this amazing ability to remain calm amidst chaos, and our oldest son has this tendency as well. This is good since our youngest and myself tend to throw mix things up a bit at times. Together, as a family, we balance one another. This “practice” at home allows for more courage in the real world as we know we have a safe place to go to regularly. I don’t necessarily agree that we must not show weakness, though. My experience has taught me that showing weaknesses can strengthen relationships as it allows others to come alongside and help us. Needing others to be stronger creates an amazing bond and actually motivates us to do and be more.

    • Hi Kari, as David said above, I don’t believe weakness to be a good thing, but expressing your vulnerability definitely has it’s advantages. It’s just knowing when to show it and when to batten down the hatches. I suppose that is one skill an effective leader will always have – great emotional timing.

      • Knowing when to show and not show weaknesses is important. Or, rather, I think it’s important to know the level to which we should reveal them, how much we should show. I am completely on board with operating in our strengths. I do it myself. However, I think having a healthy awareness of weaknesses is also important. I think we naturally think too highly of ourselves, and keeping aware of our weaknesses helps counteract this. I also think being open about weaknesses makes a person relatable. I’ve seen way to many leaders who hide their weaknesses and appear as if they exude & abound in strengths. When they fall, those following them go into crisis too. Emotional timing definitely is a skill effective leaders must hone as is humility created from awareness of our weaknesses. Great discussion! Thanks, Jamie!

        • Great thoughts on strengths and weaknesses. I also believe we must focus on our strength zones while still knowing and avoiding our areas of weakness. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • Jamie very true. When all is crazy and falling apart your team will look to see how you are reacting. A since of calm will cause them to be at there best. If we as leaders are freaking out they will become chickens with there heads cut off. As far as what qualities I want to see in a leader. I would say I want to see one that is being a servant leader. If a leader doesn’t understand they are there to serve the team first it can be a pretty ugly thing.

    • That is a good point. leadership isn’t about a singular person, it is about being the figurehead of a team or the head of a collaboration. Someone who requires the strength of those around them too. Think of the most powerful political leaders, sports coaches and CEO’s in history. They all had a great team behind them. Thanks.

  • The number one trait I like to see in a leader is confidence. I can follow someone who carries him/herself with assurance.

    • Charles, this is important as without confidence in our leaders, it can feel a bit like ‘blind leading the blind’.

  • I think the best leaders shine when things are the darkest and everyone knows it. The tough times is when the resolve shows up, the determination and perseverance rise up to show the true heart of the leader.

    • Hi Floyd, I agree that some leaders show their best selves when the backs are against the wall and they have to dig real deep to battle through.

  • “If we feel weakness, we must not show it” I agree that those who follow us need to see strength. But I’m wondering if they would rather see vulnerability and honesty?

    • I think that vulnerability is very important and there are definitely situations when it is required but sometimes, in certain situations at least, a show of vulnerability can be perceived as weakness by those who do not understand it.

  • I think a big one is transparency. Pull back the curtain a little and prove that you don’t have a hidden agenda.

    • That’s a great addition, Ellory! Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

    • Yeh this is great. This is a big part of the vulnerability aspect others have mentioned.

  • Hi Jamie,

    Love this message! A select few remain calm amid the appearance of chaos. These are leaders.

    Leaders are too busy to toot their own horn. Besides, their inspired followers do it for them. Or their close friends. These are called “endorsements.” 😉

    Super read, thank you.

    Ryan

    • Hello Ryan,

      Great thoughts, staying calm can be greatly beneficial. Yes, leaders are so busy taking action that they don’t have enough time to too their own horn. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

    • True, a leader sets the example that others. hopefully, will follow. Endorsements are how reputations are made!

  • People freak out if they see leaders freaking out. Remaining calm is important. God is what helps me keep calm when the storms come…because they will come.

    • Yes they do, it’s an important thing to remember. Great solution! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • i was just listening to a sermon today on discipline and the preacher said stood out to me and i thought it ties with your thoughts here ” it’s not what we do once in a while that changes our lives but what we do consistently”

    it’s not that leaders don’t fear but the habit of consistency and going the extra mile makes the difference. others can cop out but real leaders must stand.

    Great thoughts.

    • Hello Ngina,

      Yes, consistent change goes a long way. Love your statement: “others can cop out but real leaders must stand.” Powerful! Thank you for taking the time to add to the topic.

  • I have done my share of guitar teaching, too, Jamie. I teach communication at a community college as my main gig, but have taught as many as 25 guitar students per week in the past.

    • Hey, 25 per week is fantastic. That’s a decent full time wage.

  • hi Jamie – you’re right. Leaders have to move ahead when circumstances around them are falling apart. Leaders have no control over outside circumstances or other people. all they have is control over themselves. The courage, tenacity and persistence they show in a challenging situation will inspire those who are looking up to the leader.

    Other qualities I can appreciate about leaders are self-awareness, patience and encouraging others to move forward during bleak times.

    • Ahhh patience. The noble art of not going crazy! As a guitar teacher I need this more than anything and while I am doing a fantastic job of appearing to be patient, inside is a different matter. I’m getting better though!

  • Hi Jamie, thanks for sharing this post. Integrity and character right up there on the top of the list for any leader. I can’t follow someone I don’t trust.

    • Hi Greg, that’s exactly how I feel about leaders. Without the respect of their followers, a leader is doomed to fail.

    • I totally agree, Greg. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • This is something that I’ve observed several times in my life. I’m blessed in that I can keep a cool head when things are going crazy, and it’s served me well.

    • Keeping a cool head is so important (especially when everything around you is chaotic). Keep using those skills!