Since childhood, I have poetically admired Vietnam and romanticized about the courage of the Vietcong. Few days ago, I went to Vietnam to tick off yet another item of my bucket list. Little I knew of the nightmare I caused to my wife, my daughter, and my brother.
Our dream trip was shattered as soon as we stepped a foot on Vietnamese soil when a tough police officer started shouting and pointing fingers to my wife’s face. Struggling to decipher his English and facial expressions, we finally understood that my wife committed an offence by coming to Vietnam with an unrecognized travel document. Within few minutes, I found myself accused of breaking the law of a foreign country, accompanied by a terrified wife, carrying a frightened daughter, and surrounded by an agitated twenty-something brother trying to use his Third World skills of conflict resolution. Under this pressure, my brain was hijacked by my emotions and my decision making was less than effective. We ended up with my wife escorted to a detention room – a friendly term for jail – until she was to be deported. Meanwhile and close to mid night, we were asked to leave the scene with very little direction or clarity.
Sleepless in Saigon, I remembered a lesson that a friend – a leader in Emergency Medicine – taught me: “Slow is Fast, Fats is Dangerous.” My friend claims that this seemingly simple principle empowers his resilience during the uncertainty of medical emergencies. It also inspires his leadership in the complex world of healthcare. He firmly believes that it is crucial to coach managers – in all industries – to slow down and pause in today’s volatile business world.
“The conscious choice to slow down and the intentional pause to reflect, help managers gain perspective and be more thoughtful in their leadership.”
Now back to my vacation disaster in Vietnam, here is a plausible application of the pause principle:
1- Ask for time out! Despite the temptation and pressure, this was truly possible
2- Invite my family to offer their perspective on what our priority was then
3- Re-evaluate thoughtfully and communicate clearly
Since leadership is easier taught than practiced, I just failed to practice what I preach. Rather, I replaced “the pause principle” with Maged’s “Fast, Bold and Wild.” Needless to say, the grandsons of Ho Chi Minh were not impressed!