Chapter 15. A Deep Breath

I admit it. I love it when the sky is falling. There is no more delicious a state of being than the imminent threat of disaster.

During these times, I’ve done great work. I’ve taken teams from “We’re fucked” to “We made it.” Yeah, we had to cancel Christmas that one time, and there was that other time I didn’t leave the building for three days straight, but it was worth it because there’s no more exhilarating place to hang than the edge of chaos. We’re wired to escape danger.

There’s a reputation you get after successfully performing the diving saves. You’re “the Fixer.” You’re the one they call when hope is lost, and while that’s a great merit badge to have, it’s a cover story. It’s spin. See, someone upstream from you fucked up badly. When the sky falls, it means someone, somewhere underestimated the project, didn’t make a decision, or let a small miss turn into a colossal disaster, and while fixing a disaster feels great, you’re not actually fixing anything.

Management by crisis is exhilarating, but it values velocity over completeness; it sacrifices creativity for the illusion of progress.

Still, right now, the sky is falling and rather than let it fall, immediate action is necessary, and my first bit of advice is that everyone takes a deep breath.


When you see an impending crisis, your body has a distinct natural reaction. In your consideration of the crisis, you take a long, deep breath. You often don’t notice this, but if I were sitting next to you, ...

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