Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our problems stayed small and manageable? People who are good at identifying challenges and tending to them early on are my heroes. I think of them as game wardens caring for cute baby rhinos.
We’re all different in the ways we respond to the probable but often overlooked, downplayed, or outright ignored problems that I call “gray rhinos”: they’re charging right at us, but we don’t always see them or react properly. Take the Gray Rhino Quiz to find out how well you deal with the obvious dangers in your life, work and in the world around you.
The Game Warden is just one personality type among the quiz personalities that describe how some of us respond to obvious problems: whether we react in time, or let ourselves get trampled.
Some of us never see them coming in the first place and get flattened like the Pancake. Many of us are like Tourists on Safari: we want to see the big important things that might affect us, for better or for worse, but are still developing that skill. Then there are the Ostriches among us who see things coming but refuse to look. For a Chicken Little, every little sign foretells disaster –and may get in the way of seeing the real problems.
Some of us are just the right amount of prepared, like Game Wardens. If you’re a game warden, you don’t freak out over the little things. You keep perspective. You think long-term. You know what to let go and what you need to fight to protect.
If your quiz results show that you’re one of the other personality types, you can learn from how Game Wardens tend to problems when they’re easy to handle, like the cute little rhino in this cartoon.
The sooner we deal with a challenge, the more likely we are to succeed. But most people wait for issues to get big and menacing, when we’re more likely to do something about them, but at a higher cost and with less chance of success.
The trick to keeping from getting trampled is to understand that humans are not always good at recognizing the obvious, and so to be extra alert. When my house was near train tracks, at first it was hard not to be distracted by the noise when trains passed. But it didn’t take long to tune out the clack-clacking and the engine noise, and soon I didn’t even notice the trains.
That’s how it works with ever-present challenges: we train ourselves not to pay attention. But Game Wardens don’t easily fall into that trap.
They create habits and systems that help them to act in time to keep crises from growing out of control.
Here are some habits of Game Wardens:
- Form habits that make it easy to deal with potential problems early on. Use checklists to make sure you’re scanning your surroundings regularly.
- Be brutally honest with yourself, and surround yourself with others who are willing to say things you might not want to hear. Learn about the unconscious biases that keep us from seeing what we need to deal with, and about strategies that can help you to outwit those biases.
- Create a good team, advisors and partners who can help you ask questions you might not think of yourself, and who come from a variety of points of view. This will make it harder to miss things that experienced eyes are more likely to see.
- Look for opportunity in adversity. If you’re missing problems, the odds are good that you might also miss a chance for something amazing to come along.
- Track your progress. Are you doing what needs to be done? Are your actions taking you closer to solving the problem in front of you? Make sure you have the right measures of success, and are alert to indicators that suggest it’s time to change course.
By taking the quiz and assessing your Gray Rhino type, you’ve already taken a step toward identifying and prioritizing the risks in your life, work, and the world.
If your quiz results show that you’re a game warden, congratulations! You’re on top of things.
But even Game Wardens have to keep an eye on how they’re doing, and not let themselves fall down on the job. Sometimes we’re most vulnerable when we’ve successfully headed off a problem, so let down our guard and get bowled over by the one right behind it that we didn’t see coming. Game Wardens don’t take their skills for granted. Neither should you!