Thoughts on Leadership From “Professor X”: Be Relaxed and Ready

What should be the posture of leadership when a company, an industry, or an entire economy is in crisis?

Most would probably agree that “Don’t worry, be happy” is not the way to go. Comfort leads to contentment, which too often leads to complacency and inaction. Comfort is the disposition of the prey just before ambush by a predator. On the other hand, a state of constant alarm leads to stress, panic and exhaustion, resulting in poor decisions driven by impulse and anxiety, and eventually total dysfunction. People and organizations can turn on each other, or be literally paralyzed by fear.

When faced with crisis, the healthiest disposition is neither the comfort of complacency nor a constant state of alarm. To survive a high-stakes, competitive environment, whether in the wild, in sports or in business, the goal is to maintain a state of relaxed readiness–a posture lying somewhere between total relaxation and absolute rigidity.

In a dangerous economic environment, we must be on the alert for challenges and change, but not so stressed and intimidated by them that we can’t respond. We can’t be so focused on the dangers that we fail to see the opportunities within crisis. The most resilient companies and individuals will be those who can achieve and maintain a state of relaxed readiness.

What men call a crisis is merely God clearing the way for opportunity.

Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of