She wailed like an alley cat. Face contorted and flushed, body tense and taut, Helen was complaining long and hard about her colleagues.
“They don’t give me a chance.” Gurgle-squawk-shudder.
“They don’t respect my experience. They won’t listen to me. I’ve got years of expertise!” Warble-inhale-growl. “They make fun of my hair and say mean things!” Croak-snot-quiver.
Helen was a mess. She was in a veritable snot-lather about her interactions with colleagues.
It was a scene to behold. The Storm Driver in full blast: fierce and ominous.
As an observer, there is no way Helen was going to be taken seriously. Her emotions did the talking, and they reduced her to childhood vocabulary.
When we are taken by the Storm Driver, we lose our sense of decorum. Our emotional equilibrium is shot and we blow through with an emotional hurricane.
No productive conversations happen in the path of a Storm Driver.
All of us have been triggered emotionally and turned to expressive tirades that were not so much from anger (like the Firebug) but from pain and suffering.
When we unleash the Storm Driver, we lose our audience. Emotions can alienate when blown forcefully.
What triggers the Storm Driver?
The hurt and suffering is often related to loss of position within a group. Our status or expertise is marginalised or ignored, We are made to feel ‘less than’ somehow. We might have been told to ‘get back in your box’, ‘do your time’, ‘earn your stripes’. Nothing piques our pride more than being told we are not yet worthy.
Threats to our position relative to others triggers the good ole amygdala, our flight and fight response. When we are threatened this way, our esteem and sense of safety feels compromised, and we might end up in some version of Helen’s bumbling mess.
To tame the Storm Driver, we need to reassure ourselves that we are worthy, that we do add value, and we can make a contribution. We may not receive validation from others; we need to find it from within.
As leaders, if we see the Storm Driver emerge in a team member, we need to check if their expertise has been disregarded. Maybe their ideas have been sidelined one too many times. Perhaps they have been insulted and marginalised by more than one team member. Re-establishment of group ground rules may be in order, alongside reassurance of the wounded Storm Driver. We need to affirm position and stabilise status.
When have you felt your inner devil of the Storm Driver emerge? How did you recover? When have you seen it in others? How was it resolved? What triggered it?