Last weekend me and my 2 eldest kids were at the beach boogie boarding. As the surf was up, I was out in the water with them and helping them catch the waves, everyone was having a great time. We were swimming between the flags and there were 3 lifeguards on duty. All safe and doing what we should.
Because I had the two kids I was taking turns taking them into the breakers. At one stage I had my son out in the breakers, I looked to see where my daughter was after her last ride. I noticed that she’d drifted quite a bit along the shore, so I yelled out for her to come closer, kids being kids, they lose track of where they are and I didn’t think much of it. Then I turned my attention back to the waves, watching for the next big set for my son. But instead of seeing regular lines of waves, the water was all churned up. Something was wrong, big time.
I turned back to see where my daughter was, and this time I really looked, while in the shallows and genuinely trying to get to me, she was even further away from me. My alarm bells went off. Right then my son and I plus a 10 year old girl swimming close by got caught in the same rip. The speed and the power was quite something. My son and the girl swimming close by hadn’t recognise it for what it was. I looked at the lifeguards, they hadn’t seen it.
So in that moment I had 3 kids to look after, and it was just me. So I yelled to my daughter to quit trying to get to me, and get to shore. She already knew something was up, and my tone of voice confirmed that it was serious. So she changed tack, got her feet down and got to safety. I had hold of my son, who was still goofing around, but tied to a floating boogie board. That meant the girl was in the most danger, she was just swimming, and about now knew she was in trouble. She was getting further away from us and despite her efforts couldn’t close the gap. She began to panic. It was time for drastic action. So I got my son on top of his boogie board and told him if he let go of it, he would never use an iPad again. Now he knew it was serious. Then I let go of him and made my way to the girl. Grabbed her, and pulled her toward my son, grabbed him and then pulled them both into shore. Crisis averted. For most people, including the lifeguards, it was a crisis that never was. They simply hadn’t recognised it. The people who should have seen it were wondering ‘what happened’.
This story highlights that things change, rapidly. It’s all of our job to see changes in the market or in our customers and make us all aware of what is happening. Recognising the change for what it is, is the critical part. After that It’s how we react that makes all the difference. Deciding if this is this a real and present threat or a one off – and then make good choices about how we respond, through good account management, product offers, price changes, how we deliver our services or how we manage them. This is the bit we can control….
[PS. After the incident, the girl came up and hugged me, a complete stranger. That moment was pretty special ]