The Rabbit King Tells Me, “In the Midst of Uncertainty and Disruption, Stop Thinking About Yourself.”
Just outside of Chengdu, China, lives the Rabbit King – and yes, he goes by that name. It was given to him by his community, which deeply admires him. The Rabbit King was extremely poor before Heifer International provided him with a few rabbits to raise. Those few rabbits turned into 12,000 rabbits in a little more than five years.
The Rabbit King enjoyed years of nurturing and growing his broad, but sadly, about three weeks ago, he lost all but 30 of his rabbits to a massive flood. I asked the him about the consequences of losing almost 12,000 rabbits and being forced to start over. “It’s back to poverty,” he said. I expected tears to follow that comment and his next statement to be something like, “What are my family and I going to do?”
Not the Rabbit King; he didn’t speak of desperation and despair, but rather of confidence and opportunity.
He was thankful for the 30 rabbits that were spared, and he was even more thankful that no one in his family or his community was killed in the disaster. He was surprisingly positive, even as he took me around his farm and showed me the devastation. Even though a plan wasn’t in place yet, his mind was focused on rebuilding. When I asked him where he would begin rebuilding, he talked about the community. He was interested in helping others impacted by the flood. When he thinks of rebuilding, he’s not just talking about his house, his office and his farm; he’s talking about rebuilding the entire community. His compassion and care for others overwhelmed his focus on himself. And this seemed to help him cope. It made him feel an even greater responsibility. He didn’t want to just recover; he wanted to be the symbol of recovery. He wanted to make sure others followed his example. He wanted to make sure they recovered, too.
With that mindset, his rebuilding work is getting underway, far and wide. He’s digging in the mud to find anything salvageable. And there is so much mud. While much of his day was spent in the office before, this disruption has forced him to the front lines again. Like any good leader, he’s fully present and fully visible in the mess. The cleanup doesn’t just happen under his command; he’s also getting his hands dirty. And he’s positive as he works, so that others will see his positivity and remain hopeful.
When you’re faced with uncertainty and disruption, consider these points, courtesy of the Rabbit King:
- Accept a sense of responsibility that goes beyond you and your recovery. Accept the responsibility for the recovery of your team or community.
- Keep a proper perspective that allows you to be thankful for what you have … for what was spared.
- Remain positive through significant setbacks so that others remain hopeful. It’s okay to feel despair, but limit it and don’t let it get in the way of productive recovery.
- Position yourself in the trenches following disruption. Your command should be seen and felt in the middle of the mess, not from the sidelines.
- Respond quickly. Don’t wait for a solid plan to be in place before you start to get to work. Just getting to work starts the healing and recovery process.
- Salvage anything and everything salvageable. Your resources will be limited and you’ll need to find uses for things that may have been somewhat useless in the past.