I was asked recently how I have handled working for difficult managers or in difficult situations. I thought about it briefly, remembering one manager in particular I worked for who thrived on chaos. He continually manufactured crisis after crisis, presumably to solve problems of his own creation. It was a brutal form of management that exacted a terrible toll, leading to a revolving door of employees. I never understood how his superiors stood for it and it was an epic fail on their part that they were so uninvolved and uncaring of the business they were supposed to be leading.
As I thought about this manager, I immediately thought of living here on the mid-Atlantic coast along the western shores of Chesapeake Bay. It's a place where hurricanes occasionally barrel through, prompting residents to hunker down in the driving winds and rain. A respite occurs when the eye of the storm passes through. I thought about what it's like in the eye of the hurricane, this strange sensation of calmness and tranquility and a brief respite from what's come and what's to arrive.
I answered the question posed to me by saying that in a time of chaos I find the eye of the storm and operate in that. Essentially I shut out what's going on around me and focus on what I can control in the moment. For me, as a writer, that entails zooming in on descriptive elements of the story I'm writing. What I hear is my storytelling voice, that inner voice that dictates elements like structure and pacing. What I see are the details that make the story, the descriptive words and phrases and word pictures that breathe life into the copy. What I don't see and hear is the noise and drama around me. That's what finding the eye of the storm and operating in it looks and feels like to me.