Big Momma’s Biscuits: 5 Ways To Turn Disaster Into Renewal

On Christmas night everyone was gathered for our annual party in rural Arkansas. A brutally cold storm dumped snow and ice on a town where most people don’t have a snow shovel.  And we lost all electrical power.  Somehow, we banded together, the children were cared for and everyone spent the night in relative warmth.

The next day, Big Momma had her power restored before anyone else, so that’s where we ventured on icy roads.  After we ate, Big Momma continued to make her famous biscuits for others, including family who were without power and food.   There was no question – when people have a need you do what you can to help.

Disasters like ours can be deadly and they are also great opportunities for building a sense of renewal in any family or organization.  Here are some ways:

  • Keep your communication simple and easy to understand.  Like our family, there are people in every organization who experience a sense of shock or anxiety at a time of uncertainty.  They have to be able to hear you first before they can effectively act.
  • When asking others to take action, initially ask for very simple steps in response.  For us it was lighting a couple of candles, putting another log in the fireplace, and helping the youngest children put on a sweater.
  • Keep the culture as encouraging as possible. In organizations, especially those with some dysfunction, the immediate disaster can be amplified by finger pointing and the individual cowboy approach to problem solving.  Big Momma’s biscuits and her tireless cooking were our antidotes for fear and disharmony.
  • Observe the positive as it occurs and recognize it.  The immediacy of positive feedback in a trying time is one of the most powerful ways to model effective behavior.  For us it was the liberal use of the word “thanks” in response to someone offering to help or do something that made a difference for another family member.
  • Make your short list of changes for the future, not the detailed plan.  An initial list usually has a few items that are loaded with emotional content and putting those down on paper can be a good starting place.  At work it could be as simple as clarification about the decision-making tree when another challenge arises.  In Arkansas it was placing a deposit on the upgraded generator at Home Depot.

I believe every family and organization needs their own “Big Momma’s place” – a place of safety, refuge, and love.  You may appreciate it at any time, but probably not as much as when disaster strikes.  If you don’t have one now, strive to discover and build it.  If you have one, let your Big Momma know.