Lessons for Living       
Lesson Twelve: "Crisis - The Dangerous Opportunity"


"What do you usually see in a crisis?"




Welcome to Lessons for Living.

This week's lesson is on "Crisis."

Have you ever been in a crisis? Have you ever had life suddenly fall apart? Perhaps you were overwhelmed by the loss of a job or the break up of a relationship. Maybe it was just a minor event, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Suddenly, you are in a crisis.

While such times can be very upsetting, understanding the true nature of a crisis helps you get through them. The meaning of a crisis is well expressed in the Chinese language. Writing the word crisis in Chinese requires two characters, one of them represents danger and the other opportunity. Translated it means that a crisis is a "Dangerous Opportunity".

What do you usually see in a crisis?

Most of us quickly see the danger and overlook the opportunity. Indeed, the opportunity may be well hidden. We see the danger first because when something changes in our environment we immediately look to see how it might harm us. Our problem is that after looking for the danger, we forget to look for the opportunity.

By nature we are "danger people." Becoming an "opportunity person" is hard work. It requires an intentional shift of your mindset – a change of attitude. This change of attitude often occurs only after successfully weathering several crises. Many people report that it was actually a crisis that caused them to make a much-needed change. Living through a hard time challenges people to grow in ways that makes them more mature and opens them to new possibilities.

Community crises provide an example. In times of natural disaster, like a flood, people reach out to each other. They let go of self-centered interests and become connected in ways that strengthen them. Hidden in the danger of the disaster is the opportunity for the growth of empathy and caring.

An individual crisis can also change your life through hidden opportunity. Suppose you loose a job that you don’t like. Maybe, you had been thinking of leaving, but would not take the needed action. It was too scary.

Now, the company has downsized, and you are unemployed. Life has given you an opportunity to take a chance. You are in a crisis with both danger and opportunity. One danger is financial hardship, but the real danger is that you might put life back together just the way it was. You might plead to get your job back and once again become stuck in a bad situation.

Instead, you could take a risk and use the crisis as an opportunity to make needed changes. You could return to school and through struggle and hard work advance to your goal – a more fulfilling career. You will have gotten where you wanted to be because you seized the opportunity created by a crisis. There was danger, but you chose to capitalize on the opportunity resulting in personal growth.

The next time a crisis enters your life be sure to look for the danger and take any appropriate action, but remember to also look for the opportunity. What are your options? What new directions open to you? Become an "Opportunity Person." Choose the Opportunity Attitude.

2000 Daniel H. Johnston. All Rights Reserved.

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