What My Car Accident Taught Me About Crisis Management

I never thought there would come a day when I would say this – I risked my life going to an interview.

It happened all too fast. One minute, I was in the backseat of a ridesharing car, carefully going through my notes for my interview, and next, I was sprawled on the floor of the vehicle completely bewildered by the event that had just transpired. It turned out the car I was in had been T-boned by a reckless driver who did not stop to examine the road before proceeding. Thankfully, I came out alive, suffering only minor injuries. Both drivers were unscathed, but I could not say the same for the vehicles involved.

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The car I was in during the accident

I truly believe that experiences – as bad as they may be – make great stories and lessons, and I would like to share how my accident taught me to manage my own personal crisis.

  1. Time is short. Plan your time wisely.

My interview was at 1:30p.m. The accident happened at 1:05p.m. I knew I had to call the ridesharing service’s hotline to report the accident and cancel the ride, which would take close to 15 minutes. It would take me an additional five minutes to get on to my next ride and approximately an additional 15 minutes to get to my destination. It was clear time was not on my side. There was no way I could make it there on time.

I learned it was critical to break down the necessary tasks that demanded immediate attention while at the same time, be time-conscious and mindful of probable outcomes. Time was precious, and I could not afford to waste a single second.

  1. Manage expectations. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

Learning point – if you’re going to be late, tell them you’re going to be late! Do not attempt to arrive on time by the skin of your teeth. The moment I knew I would be late, I called my interviewer to apologize and explain my situation, informing her I would be about 10 minutes late.

If you know you are not able to meet the other person’s expectations, make sure you inform and explain with sound reason, and at the same time offer a resolution. Managing expectations is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and disappointments.

  1. Stick to your objective. Remain steadfast with what you set out to do.

“Are you sure you’re okay? We can reschedule,” my concerned interviewer offered at the other end of the line. “Thank you, but I’m fine. I will be there. I will see you soon,” I answered unwaveringly.

I thoroughly assessed my condition and I knew I was fully capable of making it for that interview. I had spent an immense amount of time preparing myself for this interview and I was determined not to allow any obstacle stand in my way. As if my mind had mentally blocked all reasons to reschedule, my undeterred focus at that time was to show up at that interview and ace it. And that I did. I hopped on to the next car and was headed for the interview.

While I’m not implying you walk in to an interview with a bloody nose or a dislocated arm, it is important to understand your priorities. If you need to go to the hospital, that should be the priority. Otherwise, remember your focused intent, be tenacious and keep going.

  1. There is more to life than success. Yes, there really is.

I vividly remember lying on the floor of the car, wide-eyed, disoriented and in disbelief. Was I just involved in a car accident? As I let that thought sink in, I realized I had landed on my right shoulder when I fell forward. Pain would surge through my shoulder whenever I tried to move it.

However, the real beckoning question was, how did I end up on the floor of the vehicle in the first place?

Simple – I was not wearing a seatbelt.

A safety measure so simple yet often neglected. I was too absorbed in my desire to do well in the interview that I had imprudently placed my safety at risk. Had the accident occur a second later, the other car would have hit the passenger side of the vehicle I was in and things would have been a lot worse. Lesson learned – do not take things for granted. There are just certain things that involve life risks which cannot be compromised.

Having said all this, I believe this learning lesson in crisis management is not isolated to just my experience in a car accident. It could most certainly happen across a trail of very different circumstances – whether in the workplace or in the course of everyday living. Let my personal experience here be a model of reference for you in any crisis – to review the given circumstances, manage priorities and make well-discerned decisions. You were born a champion; so if you’re ever hit with a crisis, remember to buckle up, stand tall and plod on…because you’re definitely in for a ride! (Pun intended)

This blog post was written by PRowl staff member Su Rei Khoo. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here and follow her on Twitter here.

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