Sunday, May 9, 2010

What YOU and New Madrid, Missouri have in common?

When I mention the word earthquake, what’s the first thing you think about?
Most think about the State of California or if you recently watched 60 Minutes (April 2010), the San Francisco Oakland Bridge that’s far from being completed. This bridge is the main transportation vein for San Francisco and will generate widespread devastation if it fails to be completed before the next big earthquake.

Let's shift gears and discuss New Madrid. It’s a place many of you haven’t heard of until now. In the winter of 1811-12, the central Mississippi Valley, was struck by three of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history. On December 16, 1811, the violent shaking abruptly awakened residents’ of the town of New Madrid, Missouri.

Between Dec 16,1811 and February 7, 1812 the three violent earthquakes registered in at 8.6, 8.4 & 8.7 on the Richter scale. These earthquakes were stronger than the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the Alaskan Good Friday earthquake in 1964.

These quakes were felt from Canada to New Mexico, rang church bells in Boston, cracked log homes walls, which were 3-feet deep in St Louis and damned up the Mississippi River.

The interesting thing…

The earthquakes of that memorable winter were not freak events. On the contrary, scientists have discovered that strong earthquakes in the central Mississippi Valley have occurred on a predictable and frequent basis.

The Central United States is vulnerable to a damaging earthquake. With little or no warning, an earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone will strike seven or more states, causing major physical, social, and economic disruption to a region that is home to forty million people.

The potential losses from future earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater in the New Madrid seismic zone are expected to be significant, for at least three reasons: 1) the population centers, notably Memphis and St. Louis, have thousands of structures that are not designed and constructed to withstand the effects of earthquakes; 2) the region is characterized by poorly consolidated sedimentary rocks, which are poor foundation material; and 3) a New Madrid quake would impact a multi-state region (about 10 times larger than the area impacted by a California earthquake of comparable size).

What New Madrid has to do with you and I?

Your and my life, are a lot like the New Madrid seismic fault. Many pressures have been applied to the fault lines of our lives; several structures have been created in our lives, which cannot be sustained in the wake of the economic downturn. The very things we looked to as a life raft-the perfect home & marriage, the unshakable career, and a secure retirement have disappeared for millions of people. This has left many of us feeling lost, alone, disenchanted, depressed and resentful.

The only questions many are left to wrestle with, like the New Madrid impending earthquake are “when, how powerful and what can be done about it?”

The confusing part is many of us have more questions than answers. Many of us did all the “right things” & are left in the wake of a nightmare. We don’t have the resources at our disposal to create the solutions we are desperately longing for.

Reducing Vulnerability by retrofitting our infrastructure….

You and I will deal with earthquakes in life because it comes with the territory. However these earthquakes needn’t have the devastating results the impending New Madrid quake is forecast to have due to failing to create the necessary structural & transportation changes.

You and I are in the position to change our lives by creating a plan to address personal/professional/emotional/physical challenges and seizing opportunities, which present.

Lets embark on the journey by identifying your top 5 vulnerabilities:

**The things that came up for me were 1) perfectionism, 2) depending on my own resourcefulness, 3) pride, 4) insecurity & 5) the past.

Now that you’re aware of what you are up against, identify 5 ways, which you can respond to these vulnerabilities to recover and reclaim you life.


Using the above example, my plan of escape follows. May it serve as an example to get you engaged in the process of permanent change.

To minimize the fault-line of Perfectionism, I will respond to this vulnerability by learning to ask for help. I will more quickly share what’s plaguing me with close confidants who can help shoulder the burdens I’m experiencing.

To minimize the fault-line of depending on my own resourcefulness, I will follow the same advice I’ve given myself regarding perfectionism, do a lot more listening during times of reflection, less speaking & listening for agreement i.e. during prayer, messages I listen to, advice provided from colleagues, friends and associates. I will remember that ‘none of us are as smart as all of us & none of us are islands.’

To minimize the fault-line of pride, insecurity & past regrets, I will work on becoming mindful of the ways I default to being a perfectionist and depending on my own resourcefulness. In doing so, much of the pride, insecurity and the past regrets will significantly minimize or vanish in its ability to control my thought life and behaviors.

Remember, learning without application is entertainment. Take the time to ask yourself the difficult questions and create your plan of action.

I guarantee the next time an aftershock or full on earthquake hits, you’ll be glad that you did.

To your greatness