Growing up in New Orleans, you gain a healthy respect for two things: the Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi River.

New Orleans wouldn’t exist — at least in its modern day form — absent the Army Corps. Indeed, it is hard to think that any place that is 6 feet under sea level could.

I grew up a stone’s throw from the Mississippi and often played up and down the levees that protected Jefferson Parish from the river’s current. The levees and the Jefferson Parish pumping station were the only things that separated us from a swamp. It is one marvelous job of engineering.

But eventually the Mississippi River and has its way. And it doesn’t have to be the tsunami of a Katrina. It could just be the river doing what it always does … catch water from the winter snow and spring rains and head it South to the Gulf of Mexico.

You can build as many levees as you will. As high as you will. But eventually the Mississippi and nature will take its revenge.

Unfortunately, Iowans and Missourians are experiencing that today.

Recently my team and I went through our own episode of a broken levee. Like that in Iowa and Missouri, it was a once-in-a-lifetime, perfect storm, Murphy’s Law, everything that can go wrong will go wrong event.

We screwed up. And we screwed up big time.

And like the levees holding back the Mississippi, all the business processes and procedures in place, all the best planning, the loudest exhortations, the noblest of intentions … were overcome by an accumulated series of unanticipated events, bad judgments, unplanned actions, and poor planning.

Not good.

So what do you do?

Well, you can blame the Corps. And you can blame the river. Right now you see a lot of both.

But neither are very constructive.

I think the everyday people in Iowa and Missouri are a good guide for all of us.

You suck it up. You take your lumps.

You complain and indulge in self pity long enough to remind yourself that you’re human but quickly move on.

Good brands don’t make excuses. They know that eventually their levees will break.

And you either build the levees higher or figure out a way to move to higher ground.