A key component of my doctoral research is crisis leadership so imagine my delight when I read that the Mandarin word for “Crisis” is Opportunity. I instinctively learned this lesson, like so many of you, through the school of hard knocks. In The 3 Therapies of Life, my father reinforced that good judgment comes from experience, an experience comes from poor judgment. Some of the crises we encounter are a result of what we did or didn’t do; while others are completely beyond our scope and control. We shouldn't be at ease when we enter a crisis; however, we can be confident when we exit one.
According to the Small Business Council, in 2016, firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of businesses in the United States (US) and firms with less than 20 workers made up 89.4 percent. Smaller companies are the most vulnerable to crises. In fact, nearly 40 percent of them close following a disaster, emergency, or crisis. The public tends to hear only about the more significant, publicly traded upsets. Take heart, a crisis can be the path to create your preferred future that normal peacetime operations could never have afforded.
A crisis is something unexpected, turbulent, and emotionally draining. There’s also something incredibly refreshing about it. I have never gone through a crisis where I didn’t know that something was brewing. And it is a relief when it’s finally out in the open and exposed.
Now is your chance to do what you always wanted to do! Keep your eye on the goal by getting clarity and singularity on what is you are compelled to do next. Since it’s your do or die moment, you get to determine what it is, exactly, you do better than anyone else in the world, have a passion for, and generates an income. Some organizations never get that "opportunity." Have your thirty-second pity party and then get to work! A sense of urgency is a part of a crisis, so you can't spend weeks or months crying over the milk you spilled.
First, gather your reinforcements. These are people in your tremendous tribe who want your success more than you. They have you back and will provide the discernment, objectivity, contacts, and resources to get your head and heart back in the game. They talk you down from the ledge so you can fight the good fight and regain your sanity. If you don't have them now, begin discharging the ones who aren't all in for you and find them. You can be free falling and trying to locate and pack your parachute. You won't survive.
Second, you can’t get it right without the right people. The right people will be drawn to your sense of clarity, values, and vision. The others will evaporate at the first sign of trouble. When the going gets tough, the non-committed put in their two weeks’ notice or quit. Do not worry. They wouldn’t have been able to help you right the ship and would have delayed the time in the storm or even capsized the organization. This is your opportunity to get the right passengers on your leader”ship” so don’t hire out of a place of pain. Remember, if you want it bad that’s how you’re going to get it.
I may not know that much about success, but I am well versed in regeneration. This adaptive capacity is much more critical. Success is always fleeting. In the immortal words of Project Runway host Heidi Klum, "One day you're in and the next you’re out.” You can, with confidence, know in your heart that no matter what the future holds you’ll be able to find value and purpose in the inevitable storm waves that come crashing in. Unless you are broken, you cannot be transformed. You need to melt the ice before it can be remolded. If you want to be a vessel that is poured out in service to others, you must be put in the kiln repeatedly in temperatures over 1,000 degrees.
So next time you think the sky is falling, it may be that the sun is about to burst forth and you are going to get a glimpse of the horizon of your dreams. Creation is about things falling apart so they can come together in the most tremendous way!