I just lived through one of the craziest weeks and weather experiences I can remember. You see, I live in the Southtowns of Buffalo, NY. And for anyone who may have missed the story, we were just pounded with one heck of a snowstorm. Yeah, I know, you may say “It’s Buffalo, why is that so extraordinary?” Well this one was a record breaker – the most snowfall we’ve ever seen in such a short period of time. My town of West Seneca officially recorded 78 inches between last Tuesday and Thursday. And by the way, I’m not a huge fan of snow.
Now this is by no means the first major snowstorm I’ve experienced. I was too young to remember the Blizzard of ’77, the granddaddy of all Buffalo storms, but I vividly recall a few others of note: the Thanksgiving Week storm of 2000, where I and many others were stranded in our workplaces overnight (and let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to sleep under a desk) while hundreds of others were stranded on the I-90 for 36 hours; and the Surprise October Storm of 2006, when a nasty, un-forecasted snow/ice storm knocked out power in most of the area for days.
The thing that is most notable about those storms, as well as last week’s storm, is the way that they bring out the best in humanity, and the life lessons that can be learned from them.
In 2000, I learned that though it’s no picnic being stranded in your office overnight, the camaraderie and bonding that comes from that experience is one that’s not easy to duplicate. Those of us that were there still reminisce about it, 14 years later. And the teamwork that emerged, and sheer determination to get everyone’s cars dug out and people home the next morning…that’s the kind of collaboration and focus on a common goal that any team, any workplace would envy.
In 2006, when the power finally came back on and all of us dropped our typical daily responsibilities to spend days cleaning up and getting our stores back on line, that also taught me the true meaning of working towards a common goal, and how each of us, no matter what our background or ability, can be a critical component in seeing it achieved.
And today, in 2014, I’ve realized the importance of relationships and networks. Though I was cooped up alone for 4 days, I was never really alone. Friends and colleagues from all over the world continually checked in on me, whether it was to see how I was holding up, just to say hi, or to try to make me laugh and keep my sense of humor alive through a long four days. And though there were moments of worry that I’d be trapped with no way to dig out on my own, deep down I knew that would never be the case, that there is always someone around to help, and that working together we can – literally – weather the storm.
I may not like the snow, but maybe there’s just a tiny little part of me that’s just a little bit grateful that I’ve lived through these experiences. That through them, I’ve learned the meaning of resilience, camaraderie, and a “nothing’s going to stop us” attitude.
If you can’t find the business lesson in that, well then perhaps you’re just not looking hard enough.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.