CEO Stress Strategies for every day Crisis

CEO Stress Strategies for every day Crisis


I thought the Japanese man was going to have a heart attack. He was blowing air out in a noisy explosion that reminded me of one of those TV programs, which they only have in Japan, where they tie up contestants and throw venomous snakes all over them just for fun!

About twenty people had been running madly through tunnels at Los Angeles airport, for what seemed like (and probably was) kilometres, desperate to catch connections they were unlikely to make.

Handling crisis is so fascinating to me. It all started 6 hours earlier when weather further north had slowed the planes from arriving in Las Vegas and the chances of getting home to Australia via Los Angeles appeared in front of my eyes as an ever-diminishing curve of success.

A businessman in formal attire rushing through an airport terminal, possibly late for a flight.

My stress strategy at the start was to share with my team-on-line every miserable moment. They are very good at WhatsApp messages saying things like “I’m sure there is a nice café?”. There isn’t, but the words were warming. I also had a pedicure (these are the weird things they have in Las Vegas airport instead of a ‘nice café’) which would have been relaxing if I wasn’t looking at my watch every 4 seconds for flight updates.

When we finally got onto the plane several hours late, the added Sword of Damocles was that everyone on the plane was only going to Los Angeles as a transition point. You could eat the tension in the air. Little moments lost with big repercussions, with one lady going to Hong Kong on a connection earlier than ours and then on to Bali. Good luck with that!

An American woman, I’ll call ‘the grouch’, lost the plot early. Carrying way too much hand luggage she got on the delayed plane grabbing all the storage, slamming compartments, and pushing people to one side. I was told, by a colleague, Helen (who I coincidentally know from Melbourne – you travel the world to meet the girl next door), who sat next to her, that it was not much fun.

All seemed tense and desperate, but we were at least out on the tarmac . . . . and then it got worse. We couldn’t take off because there was a hold up in the air over Los Angeles because of all the other hold ups – hip bone is connected to the thigh bone stuff – and we sat on the tarmac for more than an hour and watched little planes and big planes land and take off all around us, coming from every direction. Some seemed a little too close for my liking. Seriously, who would do traffic control! Oh that’s right, wasn’t that lady (allegedly at this stage), who murdered her whole family with mushrooms, a flight controller. Makes sense.

When we landed at LA domestic airport at 11.20 pm for an 11.35 pm flight back to Australia, none of us had any idea where the International terminal was, but we were told it was a 30 min walk away. With a 15 minute window it was no problem, we would run! I could not resist maneuvering in front of ‘the grouch’ at the door to get off the plane. My ticket was 1A and she was 2C, so it wasn’t hard, but I copped it. “Are you going first” she screamed. “Seems like you have greater need” I answered and let her through as she huffed and puffed. Tee hee. One day I’m going to write a guide on plane etiquette. Does it drive anyone else nuts?

The stupid assumption was that there would be suitable signage. Not. No assistance and no signage. Now, you would be thinking at this stage that I am an idiot, and there would be others who would agree with you, but there were dozens of us in the same boat. It was up to an airport cleaner who suggested, rather non-decisively, that we should ‘turn right” and about 100 people did.

At one stage 8 people jumped in a lift and jumped out again when the lift had 6 floors to choose from and no writing to say where you would end up. Nobody’s tickets had terminals or gate numbers marked and while we were all looking for the international airport, it turns out it goes by the pseudonym ‘Terminal B’, but ‘who knew’? Trick for young players.

Of course the escalators were out of order, so there were people putting luggage on their heads doing no good for their spines whatsoever. I wondered how ‘the grouch’ had gone racing off at pace with her 6 fully loaded bags. Helen, my colleague, who happens to be in HR, was running with me and mumbled breathlessly, “You wouldn’t want to have a disability!” I began to think she was clearly in the right job, while I pictured that TV program where the contestants are racing around the world, last seen in a rickshaw in a busy Indian city holding a map and madly screaming at passers-by, none of whom speak English, to help them find the white temple.

Maybe I watch too much TV. Reminds me of a comment I once got from a PhD supervisor who said I was “over influenced by popular television”. I don’t think that was a compliment, but in this scenario, at that stage, I started laughing, so the TV metaphor strategy may have legs and I didn’t see too many other people with a smile on their dial.

So of course, apart from the Japanese man, blowing out air like a sumo wrestler, I think the rest of us survived. Helen (who was worried about disabilities) and I actually crawled onto QF94 as the last passengers boarded. We made it with seconds to spare.

Dr. Louise Mahler standing next to a car with a suitcase.

To add insult to injury – ‘no internet’. So, for the next 15 hours flight, while I ate all the chocolate chip biscuits on board (another stress strategy), my team, who I had annoyed with tales of doom for the last 6 hours, could now be certain I was dead.

Oh yes, by the way, the trip to Las Vegas was marvellous. I loved everyone, did my bit for Australia in four keynotes and had a ball. But you know the saying ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’. (Actually, I just walked 25,000 steps a day, which is not exotic, but I hope it sounds exciting)

What I discovered, in the bright lights of a foreign land, is that everyone has the same issues, the same struggles with communication and handling crisis and the same reasons not to change. Ho hum.

Settling now into Dr Phil’s ‘must read’ – “We’ve got issues”.

Let me know your thoughts.

Love Dr Louise Mahler

p.s. Join my exclusive 3-day retreat, 28th – 30th August 2024 at the stunning Gold Coast Imperial Hotel and learn stress strategies for every day crisis.

Date: Wednesday – Friday, 28th – 30th August 2024

Location: The Imperial Hotel Gold Coast (previously Versace Hotel)

My Confident Leader Retreats take place over 3 days 2 nights with a focus on helping leaders build their executive presence and hone their own unique gravitas within a small group setting.

As well as confidence and skills development, those attending forge an invaluable network, sharing opportunities and forming lifelong friendships.

Transform your executive presence, collaborate with other senior leaders and stay ahead.

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About Me

Dr Louise Mahler is a body language expert. With a focus on study of the mind-body relationship and business applications; providing practical inspiring improvement to global leaders.

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