Chad kept to himself most of the time. Wound up tighter than dried rope lashing on a mast, Chad didn’t say much.You felt him scurry from room to room. He left a weird energy trail that stuck to you like slime after he passed nearby. 

You could tell everything you needed to know about the day you would have in his company by the quiver of his lips. Pursed thin lines meant steam would be coming later: anger and frustration would be pressed back behind those tight pressed lips. In conversation it came out in sliced sentences, as if his inner turmoil cut the words like a writhing snake before letting them out.

A slight tremble of the lips let us know that huge sighs were fomenting for release. A tsunami of angst and repressed woe would soon wash over us.

The Water Bomber leaves a soaking wake in their emotional path. Sometimes up, sometimes down, you never know what you’re going to get with the Water Bomber.

It’s likely we have felt the Water Bomber take over our own persona. Ever felt overwhelmed and frustrated by a situation, powerless to affect change? Or maybe the deep ache of not fitting in, not being understood, and not feeling safe at work? 

The Water Bomber emerges when our place in the tribe feels threatened. We are communal creatures and belonging is one of our core survival needs. Being part of a community, especially a work community, helps us feel nurtured and buoyed in the face of life’s challenges. If that is threatened, by nasty remarks of a colleague, or being excluded from conversation or activity, we can sulk and seethe. We can weep and sigh. We feel small, and we try our hardest to shrink further from the pain. As we do that, our emotional detritus alienates others even more, exacerbating the situation further.

If we find our inner Water Bomber has been activated, we need to look to where we belong. We can ask ourselves if we are contributing to the community, or simply expecting to take from it. We cannot receive what we do not give ourselves! Ultimately, we choose to feel like we belong. Or we leave.

If we have a Water Bomber on our team, our core responsibility is to show appreciation and offer reassurance. All of us want to feel included. We all long to be seen, heard, and valued. As leaders, a kind word and a warm smile can do wonders for uplifting others.

When have you felt your inner devil of the Water Bomber surface? How did you recover? When have you seen it in others? How was it resolved? What triggered it?


Related Articles:

How to Tame a Storm Driver – One of the Four Devils of People Stuff

Vulnerability is Overrated

Do You Struggle with People Stuff?



  • Zoë Routh

    Australia's Leadership Expert, Author of Book of the Year "People Stuff" l Speaker l Mentor l Strategist

    Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

    Zoë is the author of four books: Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact,  Moments - Leadership when it matters most, Loyalty - Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates, and People Stuff - Beyond Personalities: An advanced handbook for leadership. People Stuff was awarded Book of the Year 2020 by the Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards.

    Zoë is also the producer of The Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.