Posted on Monday July 8, 2013

Earlier this year, more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine fire broke out. The scene was terrible, people were dying and it made national headlines. Here’s a quote to take in:

Some of the 4,200 people on board reported that cabin carpets are soaked in urine, passengers are sleeping in tents on deck and scarce food supplies has reduced them to eating cold onion sandwiches. [Source: Mail Online](

Mistakes happen in life, things will go wrong. Sometimes it is not how you prepare but how you react that matters most.

Three days later as the passengers and crew were still stranded living in conditions that were inhumane, Carnival CEO Micky Arison is taking in a NBA game for his Miami Heat, tweeting and having a great time. While normally a harmless act, in view of the crisis that his company was going through perhaps not the best decision.

This is not a blog to bash Micky Arison but to raise the question, what level of awareness did he have at the time? What group of accountability had he surrounded himself that was going to ask the question, “why are you at a basketball game when the company is hanging in the balance?”

Four months later, Carnival replaced Arison as CEO.

Carnival replaced Arison as CEO not because he was a failing CEO, quite the contrary as he held that position for 34 years. Carnival replaced Arison as CEO because he lost the awareness in the one moment he needed it the most.

Increasing importance

More and more people are recognizing that awareness is pivotal not only to their individual success but to the success of the companies they lead. 37signals and Jason Fried are trying to solve this problem with a new product called Know Your Company.

Jason asks the question this way: “You own your company, but how well do you know your company?” This question set him down a path to build a tool where he can better know his company, where he can become more aware.

Awareness informs us as leaders and helps us make better decisions.

It is encouraging when guys like Jason find this to be true and do not just stop there but go forward in making awareness a requirement for their leading.

Going forward

As I prepared to write this, I could not help but wonder who Micky Arison’s advisers were and where were they during this crisis? Who were the people that could be brutally honest with him and tell him to board the first plane to the Gulf of Mexico?

As you continue down your path, I hope you keep this idea of awareness in mind. I am finding that awareness best manifests itself in accountability.

Who do you have in your life asking you tough questions?

Who do you have in your life listening to your plans and can help you balance those decisions?

Finding that person or group could be the difference between leading and being unaware.