Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it.
Never Waste a Crisis
Life doesn’t always go strictly to plan. No matter how careful our planning is, no matter how thought through our projections, life throws us curveballs. Sometimes they’re minor and so require relatively minimal course corrections. Though sometimes the difficulties are huge, the path is completely blocked off and we need to find a completely new way to go. The plan simply will not work in these new circumstances.
In the face of these kinds of crises people’s reactions can differ widely, from frustration to despair to indifference. These are natural reactions to a crisis and to plans being rendered functionally useless. But the important thing to note is they are not the only possible reaction. There are other options. And a crisis is an opportunity for you to step into and lead.
True, a crisis is an opportunity for frustration, but it is also an opportunity for thinking new thoughts. Constraints don’t stifle creativity, constraints promote creativity. If the obvious ways forward have been blocked off it’s going to take more creativity to find the less obvious, less intuitive ways forward.
The question isn’t “How much has this wrecked our plans?” Instead the question in the face of a crisis is “How can we leverage this moment to move us towards our goal? How can we use this as a time to help people? What new opportunities does this situation create that didn’t exist previously?”
Now I’ve been using “crisis” as a way of just talking about roadblocks to our plans which in the grand scheme of things are of limited importance. But what about a real crisis? A death? A disaster? A diagnosis? What about a real crisis? Well the principle still stands: don’t waste a crisis.
In a real life-threatening crisis people can be frustrated or despairing and we want to be as helpful to them as possible and so use the crisis as an opportunity to love them more, talk about deeper issues, help them grapple and process and move forward.
The temptation is to do nothing and to not mention it and to move on business as usual. And there is good wisdom in this; structure and continuity are good things. But at the same time a crisis is a, hopefully, rare occurrence and so provides a rare opportunity to care for and lead people at a unique moment in their life.
The question remains the same, “How can we leverage this event to help people and retrieve as much good from this as we can?”
Never waste a crisis.