Tool: Hold The Line
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Disruption can throw us off. Like, it can really throw us off. It can throw our world out of kilter. Our home life, our work, our community, our country. It can be anything from a job loss to a tornado to a relationship change to a broken leg to a move. Anything.
One of the things that helps in the midst of disruption is finding and maintaining stability where we can.
Sometimes we may not feel like we can do a whole lot of navigation of whatever we are facing. It is in those times that perhaps the best move is to hold the line.
We can hold the line in an emergency our family is facing. We can hold the line in a relationship. As a single person figuring things out. In our jobs. In our government. In our community. In our 'hood.
Holding the line may be the most powerful thing we can do in a crisis – and it may be the best option given our risk and our resilience. Actively “holding the line” when you are worried about losing it entirely – whatever “it” is – can be incredibly powerful. It is maintaining stability. It is maintaining your position. Maintaining assets. It may be about helping others maintain stablity as well. We are not always in a position to move forward. When we are aware of our resilience as well as the situation and resources, we may find that holding the line is the best option.
I learned about holding the line in wildland firefighting – much like the anchor and flank idea. It’s even more fundamental than that concept though – because you aren’t flanking anything. In wildland fire, one of the key strategies is to build fireline. You remove fuel to keep the fire from spreading by building fireline. Holding the line might be about keeping fire away from the line where you can. It may involve aerial reinforcement in the form of retardant or water drops. It can be about “picking up” spot fire on the unburned or “green” side of the line – to keep fire from spreading further. Lookouts help you know where the risk is, and where to take action. Lookouts help you know what it’s time to cut and run, too – for your own survival.
“Holding the line” is also a military term. It’s a law enforcement term. It’s even a term that could be applied to a kids’ game – Red Rover. That whole game is about holding the line.
In any situation, you may not have good options to move forward, or even to move from your position. You may however be able to hold the line.
It’s more than just fundamental. In the midst of chaos, disruption, the unexpected – holding the line may be about survival. It may be about physical survival, or mental or emotional survival. It’s saying, “Hey, here’s what I can do right now. I can hold the line right here. So that’s what I’m doing.”
You may hold the line for perhaps a few long moments in a crisis – like a tornado.
You may need to hold the line for a much longer period, depending on the nature of the disruption(s) happening around you.
Wicked Problem Wayfinding, LLC can help you hold the line. Even though it can feel like you aren’t actively navigating – you are. Holding the line during an active time of change can be a major battle all on its own. It can involve incredible action, sacrifice, risk mitigation, focus, discipline, dedication, passion, and any number of other things. It may be energetic as well. We can hold space, we can allow, we can pray. We can believe.
Holding the line is an accomplishment all on its own. It can be a major a goal to strive for.
During times of instability, holding the line can mean the difference between maintaining civil society and devolution into chaos. It can be absolutely essential for people to hold the line when instability appears – whether it be in government, in institutions, in communities, or even in companies or organizations. History tells us that when governments falter or fail, if society is able to hold the line and maintain institutions – there is a chance to avoid chaos and tyranny.
In the United States, a whole lot of employees and contractors in the federal government have been holding the line in 2017 during a time of great change. It is a helpful example to think of, as people every day are likely making tough choices to keep government functioning as it should in the midst of sweeping ethical, legal, and procedural disruption.
This is a whole lot of serious stuff. If you’ve read this far… it may be the kind of serious stuff you’d like to talk more about. That’s what we do here.
Contact Us to talk about how Wicked Problem Wayfinding, LLC can help you, your family, your organization, your community, or your agency to hold the line. We can arrange a coaching/consulting session(s), or schedule a free consultation to see if this is a good fit. Email also works at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (202) 556-0317.
This is one of the most powerful things we can do to navigate disruption – whether it be in our personal lives, our communities, our work, or our country. Any one of us can hold any line… we just have to pick which one, quite often metaphorically.
As my former wildfire hotshot captain used to yell, “Find you a spot!”
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This post is duplicated as a Wicked Problem Wayfinding, LLC Services page, "Holding the Line."
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