Don’t Panic

An interesting article was featured on Yahoo News today. The story covered a group of 25 souls who were trapped together for over an hour in an elevator that was stuck. Throughout their ordeal everyone remained calm and committed to passing the time in a constructive and positive way. No one freaked out.

What if someone had given in to the very human urge to panic? Can you imagine how different the experience would have been for all involved? It’s unlikely those pent up in the stifling box with them would have been unaffected. There would have been those who followed suit and let their own anxiety out and others, motivated by the toxic energy, who throttled the negative nellies. I can tell you right now I would have been one of the throttlers.

The elevator situation made me think of what can happen from time-to-time with unemployed professionals. How often do we find ourselves trying to navigate today’s challenges while others freak out? Let’s face it, though the economy is larger than an elevator, we are all stuck in it together. All can agree we’d like to emerge from this current recession quickly and on solid ground. For that to happen, we’re all going to have to do what the people in that elevator did…remain calm and pass the time in a constructive and positive way.

When someone allows anxiety over the situation at hand to express itself in public settings, everyone suffers. Nothing is gained from a Chicken Little freak out. If the sky is indeed falling, panicking about it won’t change the outcome. Showing others you are more inclined to surrender to doom versus fight for a solution just makes things worse. Who wants to be around someone bent on reminding everyone all is lost?

This concept goes beyond how public panic attacks can make fellow job seekers feel. Think about how companies are feeling right now. They are in choppy waters and trying to stay afloat. Do you think they want to hire someone who, every time the boat tips, starts screaming we’re all going to die? Of course not. They want solutions oriented people with a tendency to focus on a way out of a problem, not people they’d just as soon toss overboard when the going gets tough.

The point of this post is to stress the importance of keeping it together during these difficult times. If you must indulge in a panic attack from time-to-time, go for it. It’s a human thing to do. Just be sure you do so in private, balling the sheets in the middle of the night like the rest of us. When the sun comes up and you are rolling through your day, panic attacks are off the agenda.


  • Ed Han says:

    Lisa, this is excellent. You’re absolutely right: losing one’s head adds zero value and just makes a bad situation even worse. Well said and a great use of that example!

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks, Ed. I’m a big fan of keeping a level head in chaos.

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