Are You A Snowman Or A Firefighter?

We had some snow here last weekend and as I drove around afterwards I saw a number of snowmen.  With the warmer weather this past week, many of them are gone now, victims of the rain and warmth.  Those that remain don’t look as they did when the conditions were optimal.  This, of course, triggered a business thought and a question we all might ask ourselves.


Image by andreasmarx via Flickr

I’ve known a bunch of snowmen in business.  These are people who look terrific under optimal conditions but who melt away as soon as conditions change.  You know the types.  They’re the people who are standing tall when the presentation went well or sales are flowing.  As soon as things get a little warm – business takes a downturn, the boss is angry about something – they get a lot smaller.  Maybe they even fade away completely.  They can’t deal with changing or sub-optimal conditions.

Contrast a snow person’s (why limit this to men!) behavior with that of the firefighters among us.  These are the people who, when things are turning bad, run to the problem.  They ask “how can I help?”, not “where can I hide?”.   The next time an alarm goes off in your business life, part of handling the crisis ought to be taking note of who melts, who waits to be rescued, and who rushes at the problem.  The last group is the keepers.

Snowmen are fun to build but a disaster to have around the office.  Give me firefighters every time.  You?

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1 Comment

Filed under Thinking Aloud

One response to “Are You A Snowman Or A Firefighter?

  1. In a past job, the majority of my co-workers & managers were firefighters, rushing around at all hours to solve the latest crisis…

    In this case, firefighting was not a good thing – rather than prepare and prevent the issues from arising, they dealt with issues in a break-fix manner, and as a result, never got ahead. That company has been struggling for several years now. Enthusiasm is no replacement for good planning.

    I like your analogy of the snowman – I just wonder if there is a better comparison for those who get it right. 🙂

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