Tensions were running high, people were getting on each other's nerves, and no one seemed sure what to do next. The particulars of the situation were complex and unfamiliar, and most of the factors were beyond the control of those present. Some barked out in emotional bursts, while a few others retreated into their thoughts.
The above situation is actually nothing new for leaders. It could refer to the high pressure stakes in a business negotiation, the life-and-death decision making of military freedom fighters in an impossible situation, or a family intervention in the life of a loved one in trouble. None of these, or hundreds of other such challenges, are to be taken lightly.
However, sometimes making light of something heavy is exactly the correct strategy. The best of leaders know that there is a strange power in fun and a very real release in humor.
I will never forget one particular business situation in which the pressure was high and people were behaving peculiarly, showing the strains of the tension. One man, my friend and often co-author Orrin Woodward, took stock of the situation and did the least likely but most strategic thing: he cracked a joke! It was self-deprecating on his part, hilarious, and pertinent. We all laughed uproariously and felt better immediately. The fun had quickly re-centered us, given us proper perspective, and put us back into productive mindsets.
Never forget the power of fun. Everyone enjoys a good laugh, a nice bit of humor, and the ability to "cut up" once in a while. In a serious world with serious issues, don't forget to search for some levity. It just might be the heaviest and most important thing you can do!
As a way of illustrating this point, enjoy some of these random laugh-inducers that I've enjoyed.