Social animals – Odile Hurricane’s Experience

We are social animals. We were designed to work in groups, to collaborate. However, today we face a world where people is just a number. People are rewarded for being better than their mates empowering selfishness over the work team. Social network has not improved these conditions, everybody competes for getting more virtual followers and likes, no matter where they come from.

Odile’s experience

I just could get home last Thursday after a hard week in Los Cabos where Odile has seriously hit the region 9 days ago. I was in Fiesta Americana Grand when this hurricane passed to Category IV and make the night between Sept 14 and 15 unforgettable. Some people were trying to avoid these devastating winds coming into the master ballroom, where almost all guests were gathered there to be protected while we were passing through the most dangerous timeframe – around midnight – pushing and reinforcing some doors with planks, boards and any piece of wood within our reach. Anxiety fills the room while everybody was waiting for the end of this deafening noise – debris impacting walls, doors and windows – and thinking of any other place that could be used as shelter in case of dangerous flying debris start to come in. Fortunately, we could stay saved all night long in the ballroom and leave it in the morning – ballroom was so damaged that we have to leave it to avoid any further accident, by the time pieces of the wet roof was falling down on our heads –

However, any experience like this has its bad and good take aways. Between the good things: We met wonderful people from different places and cultures, and we could enrich our staying through conversations about history, places, life, etc. We got more than enough time for reading; time to share with the family; disconnected from internet and phones. Kids had opted to share all that time with other kids inventing difference games.

On the other hand, we had to deal with some circumstances: sleeping on the floor (rooms were unsafe), we were limited in food and water, pour raining water into toilets to keep them in service -shower wasn’t an option.

Sometimes, when we were alone, anxiety started to invade me thinking if “stay here” would be a good choice for our safety. How long should we stay? The only info that we got from the outside was over the hotel’s manager meetings saying it’s better to stay. We got two per day . And if we’d choose to go, we couldn’t return, and we were on our own. Some people try to go anyway. And when they silently returned we could find out how bad the things were over the road: looting, raping,  neighbors protecting their houses and families with machetes.

The second day after the hurricane’s hit, I thought we were running out of food and water, and due to this issues I thought the hotel’s manager would advice us to leave the hotel. Anxiety got high thinking I would protect my family. Where we would be able to get food and shelter. Fortunately, the hotel got a couple of trucks with food and we could make it.

The fifth day after the hurricane, the Mexican government brought some military staff to take care of people and shops, and also they provided some resources to move out tourists and some inhabitants. We got on a bus with a couple of suitcases and two bottles of water. Anxiety got high again when I saw hundreds of cars that left over around the airport. As soon as we got off the bus we were on our own.

We were lining up to any airplane or destination.  We didn’t much care where to go as long as much we were taken out Los Cabos. We were about 7 hours sweating under an implacable sun. Troops didn’t help so much, even there were people passing out. Suddenly, somebody shouted there were some available seats to Monterrey. Then, Dani and the kids starting to run and I took care of the baggage. She and the kids get inside. However, the trooper stopped me at the entrance and didn’t allow me to get in. All the seats were taken. Finally, after arguing for a while, I could get inside. Sadly, we lost the opportunity to get on board and we had to wait some more hours util finally we got on board heading to Mexico city.

Happy Chemicals

Time was an asset that I had to think how to dealt with. I was absolutely disconnected from the outside world (family, friends and job). I took advantage of this time to resume my reading: “Leaders eat last” by Simon Sinek.  It was a reading that I fully enjoyed and fulfilled a big part of my today’s main concern: How to build a culture that fuel the team’s performance?

Happy Chemicals was my favorite section, and this sort of resources helps you to understand why it’s important to build a culture that can produce oxytocin among the team members, to get a sustained performance over the time, and even face any hard situation like this. And I can say that I use this information to understand how people behave facing this sort of experiences (hurricane’s immediately post events). There were people that couldn’t stand these circumstances, and you could feel their constant anxiety and bad mood. They isolated by themselves arguing with any guy that dare to lock his way.  People like this generate cortisol, a chemical use to wake up extra measures to protect yourself from any outside danger.  But, mind can trick us and generate a constant state of alertness, producing health issues (i.e. blood pressure). Having all your consciousness working 120% all day long is not a good idea.

On the other hand, most people was helping others out and trying to spend their time playing and chatting. Most of the kids were playing together and enjoying to socialize, without an iPad in the middle. Employees were smiling all the time and helping guests, even when they had lost everything at their homes. Some of them have to stay at hotel with no home to get back. Most the employees were wearing their work’s clothes and providing support like any day. Most people followed instructions for their safety and took care to not waste water or food.

Most of families left clothes to help people that have lost everything, hotel took care of this. I remember Rodrigo, one of the hotel employees, lost a shoe into the mug on his way back to the hotel. I gave him my shoes and he was very grateful.

Most of the actions help to create Oxytocin among us, the chemical of trust. Oxytocin creates last standing relationships and help us to feel good, and be agile as a team, we can be honest with our feelings and create natural roles between us that get amazing results to improve our survival and experience even in bad situations like this.

See you around

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