Home Featured Posts The Six Protocols for Survival, Stability, and Success

by David Giersdorf

Summer 2020, I published an article called “An Updated Look at the Expedition/Adventure Cruise Market.” It made the rounds among travel and cruise industry leadership. In the article, I laid out six imperatives for the cruise industry recovery. These imperatives were specific to cruise companies. But the more I discussed them with clients, friends, and even family, I realized that these imperatives have a much broader application—even beyond the coronavirus. They apply equally to global disruption and to personal events.

Everything I’ve learned and shared with clients over the decades is bound up in these six imperatives. If the status quo has changed, everything else has with it—your priorities, your concerns, and your vision for the future. To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, what brought you into the fog won’t get you out of it.

With this in mind, I’ve renamed the six imperatives to The Six Protocols for Survival, Stability, and Success. A protocol is a best practice we follow faithfully, skipping at our own peril. Just like there are specific protocols to follow when the fog rolls in, so too are there equivalent protocols for business, for your career, and for life.

Here are the six protocols you need to make it through disruption safely.


Know your waypoint:

Where exactly were you at when the disruption happened? When you’re in the fog, you need as much information as possible, including which type of disruption you’re facing (yes, there is more than one).


Stay afloat:

How many resources do you need to outlast the disruption? Cash is the fuel that powers your ship through unknown waters. Get and keep as much as possible to keep from grounding, or worse.


Find your first first:

What is the one thing that, if lost during the disruption, makes recovery impossible? Identify and plan everything around that.


Get flexible:

Everything has changed, so you should, too. What does recovery look like? How can you make the most of your time in the fog and position yourself to come out flying your flag higher than ever before?


Become collision-proof:

How do you make yourself antifragile? The old saying goes that we’re always either going into a disruption, actively in one, or just coming out of one. Some run-ins with the most devastating parts of disruption can be avoided. You’ll need to survive the ones that can’t.


Protect your value:

How do you protect your time, effort, and worth when the world around you is falling apart, panicking, or discounting everything of value? This protocol also applies to pricing when consumers are reluctant to buy, and to our own self-confidence.

Wherever you find yourself, and whatever is going on in the world, these protocols will lead you to recovery, no matter what situation you face. Whether you’re earning your living through a day job or leading an entire enterprise, at least one of these protocols will speak to your current situation. Before you know it, one of the other five will as well. That’s when you should dive into them most—when you know you need them.

But don’t wait. Just like mariners don’t break out the rulebook in the middle of a storm, you shouldn’t hold off learning the protocols until danger rolls in. Familiarize yourself with them now. Locate areas where you need to improve. Tune up your whole life so that, when the fog does come, you’re ready.

You’ll be so glad you did.

Editorial Note: This article is an excerpt from David Giersdorf’s Hard Ships: Navigating Your Career, Industry, and Life through the Fog of Disruption, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers March 25th.

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