Crisis Point

Over the past few months, our nation, and therefore our practices, have experienced a crisis. In one way or another, we’ve all been impacted by this pandemic.

John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters: One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

With multiple clients experiencing a crisis all at once, it is important for me to see that my role as a coach is to help my clients understand how to use this “crisis” as the basis for growth and opportunity. It requires a complete “reframing” of the situation to see the potential opportunities, possibilities, and gifts within it.  However, before we can do that, we have to first find a way to stop pushing back and railing against “what was” and learn to embrace and accept the circumstances we cannot change. Redirecting the energy it takes to be angry, defeated, regretful, or bitter is the skill great leaders possess if they are ultimately successful in crisis.

Think of a time when unexpected circumstances have created similar feelings. Can you recount any? I can. Looking back, did it ultimately work out okay? Did you achieve something valuable from it? For me, I would say yes, looking back that most of the time things worked out just fine and I got something valuable from every experience.

Interestingly, the word crisis stems from the Greek term krisis which means “decision” and is defined in the dictionary as a turning point or a condition of instability or danger leading to decisive change. Decision and decisive change. That’s what a crisis requires… decision. A decision to manage your emotions, a decision to learn from the experience, a decision to try new things. Even not making a decision is a decision to do nothing so be careful not to become immobilized in your ability to make any decisions and move forward.

Managing a crisis successfully requires feeling the danger without panicking, keeping a level head and positive expectation, leveraging your resources, making a decision, remaining flexible as it unfolds, and trusting in the ultimate gifts which are sometimes deeply hidden in the experience.

Bear Grylls, the world-famous, extreme-adventure star of the Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild show wrote a bestseller about his life and his harrowing adventures called Mud, Sweat, and Tears. Bear describes seeing crisis looming first-hand on many occasions as he became one of the youngest men to reach the summit of Mt. Everest at the age of 23. “Looking back on my life, I can see I have never had a crisis that didn’t make me stronger.”

There are some things which can only be learned at the point of a knife or the edge of a precipice: How deep your courage runs, what you truly value, how resourceful you are, and how solid your faith is in yourself. Wouldn’t it be of great value if we could learn to exercise that calm confidence and steadfast faith going into a crisis rather than only realizing or remembering it in retrospect?

Crisis points are the moments which define us and form us in our lives. They are often beautiful gifts in ugly wrappers. So, when you get a surprise delivery of one… don’t panic. Breathe, trust, decide. Your strength and character are forged by fires just like this one.

“Losing your head in a crisis is a good way to become the crisis.”

~ C.J. Redwine