It’s an ambush! Launch the counterattack! These are the words I’d yell out just before informing my sister with the words of defeat, “You sank my battleship!” This popular Hasbro board game was a favorite of ours when we were kids. I remember cleverly trying to position my fleet to avoid a predictable pattern. Somehow random guesses of B2, C4, H8, I2, etc. would eventually reveal the placement of my Carrier ship, and it was downhill from there. Although it was a game of luck, it also was a game of strategy, skill, and a good poker face. All 3 of which, when mastered, pays dividends on your path to success.
Much like with the game, life can present situations in which you may feel like you’re under attack. There you are trying to minimize the situation in one place, and then it hits, “Wham!” Here comes a blow from another direction. Does that sound familiar? I’ve been in meetings, and that’s exactly how I’ve felt. Quickly it becomes apparent that meetings have happened outside of the meeting where issues have been discussed without your knowledge and consensus has been built. You feel caught in the middle – like a deer in headlights. It’s an ambush! Launch the counterattack!
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, let me offer a few pieces of advice I learned from playing Battleship. While the chaos is brewing think:
What’s my strategy? This shifts your focus back towards your goal and the plan you’ve outlined to get there. An ambush is usually accompanied by a flurry of activity that can be easily categorized as distractions versus real threats. Take a moment and assess the situation, and determine what really needs your focus. If the flurry of activity inhibits you from moving towards your goal, then it’s a threat that has to be addressed. If it’s simply a distraction, stay focused and keep moving forward.
What skills do I possess that can help me navigate my counterattack? Ambushes can throw you off balance, and leave you feeling powerless. Although this may happen for a moment, regroup and layout your plan moving forward. When you’re in reactive mode, you have a tendency to grab whatever tool is available to try to get the job done – the difference between using a knife when a flat-head screwdriver is better. Your effort can be unsuccessful, perhaps counterproductive. When you take a moment to regroup, you give yourself the chance to come back with the right response – the right tool for the job.
What’s my demeanor? Check your emotions, put on your poker face. All ambushes aren’t necessarily personal attacks, but it may feel like it. Many times, it’s a result of hidden agendas, difference of ideas or opinions, etc. Try to maintain your composure, so you can think through your strategy and your skills. Don’t let your emotions take control when you’re being ambushed. Your emotions can lead to defeat.
Ambushes are unpredictable occurrences, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. Don’t let it take the situation overtake you. You overtake it.