REUTERS | Ricardo Moraes

Not solving every problem

They say that the UK has weather instead of a climate. Here in Panama City, there is definitely a climate.

The temperature is in the mid-thirties (Celsius) every day regardless of the season. For eight months it is rainy, very rainy, with frequent thunderstorms. The record was set in 2002 when 562 mm of rain fell in one 24 hour period. (That’s nearly two feet.)

Panamanian weather

Umbrellas are no use when it rains heavily. They keep the top part of your body dry but the rain bounces off the ground and you will be completely soaked up to your middle in a couple of minutes. Best to stay indoors, or in the car. The heaviest rain tends to be of short duration.

Actually, we are now in the dry season which lasts for about four months, roughly from December to May. It hardly rains at all in the dry season. But the clouds have started gathering, and the humidity is increasing. Everyone is debating when the season will change. One definite sign is the annual singing of the cicadas, a large dark-coloured insect that looks a bit like a grasshopper. This is a very eerie sound, something between a scream and an alien spaceship.

They sing for about two weeks each year and produce sounds up to 120 dB, among the loudest of all insects; loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss if you get too close. When Panamanians hear them, they say that the rainy season is very close.

When the change to the rainy season comes, it comes quite quickly. In just a few days, the climate turns from dry to rainy. And it stays rainy until Christmas.

Leaving aside issues of global warming and climate change, there is nothing you can do about the seasons here. They change and you change with them.

Reflecting on the legal and commercial world

In the commercial world, we are constantly being told that there are solutions to every problem (if you only work or think hard enough). We have to be proactive: you should control events and not let events control you. I heard a well-known business leader talking about this topic on the radio a few weeks ago. He started at his company in a junior role and worked his way up to chief executive.

His “secret” was to decide what was really important, and to focus on that. It’s all about what you spend your time doing and your mental energy thinking about (or worrying about). Focus on things that will help you to achieve your goals and don’t get side-tracked. In commercial organisations there will always be distractions and annoyances. For the most part, he said, you should just “let them go”.

We know about this in Panama. The seasons come and go. And sometimes it feels quite good (and quite calming) just to sit back, listen to the cicadas and wait for the rain.

10 thoughts on “Not solving every problem

  1. Thanks for sending me the link Edward. This reads like a Hemingway piece; simple, elegant and evocative. I remember spending a week in Hemingway’s old stamping ground, Andalucia, with cicadas blaring in our ears. The bloody creatures were so loud we had to retreat inside during the heat of the day.

    Interesting comments form the business leader. Do you know who that was? I’m now doing another job on top of being a leadership coach, coach supervisor and Editor (licence payers get their money’s worth). I’m working with the BBC Academy running leadership development courses. His quote will be a useful anecdote to drop in…

    I can hardly belive six months have flown by!
    When will we see you next!

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