Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Crisis into opportunity

“A crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind” Chinese proverb

Having heard the phrase ‘Crisis and opportunity’ most of us wouldn’t feel that is really the case in the climate with live in- what with financial and economic uncertainty, natural disasters happening around the globe- where is the opportunity in that!? It has been said that the Chinese term for crisis is the same as the word for opportunity.  There is also debate as to whether this is really true, though looking at it in our own lives- is there really two sides to the coin?

It really is a matter of perspective and how we view crisis and opportunity as they are always running parallel and one can always lead to the other.  We may win the lottery one day and then lose it the next and vice versa. The only thing in life we can be certain of (as I am fond of saying!) is that ‘change is the only constant in life’ and that nothing stays the same.  

It came into conversation with a client last week about the issue of Crisis having a flip side to it. To help reframe her situation, I asked her: “looking at your life now, do you see there being any opportunities in what happened to you?”   She looked surprised at first (with a ‘hell no’ look on her face), reflected on it and said “yes actually, it has given me the space to stand back from my life and get off this treadmill I have been on for the last 20 years”.  She needed to step off it first though to realise this and being made redundant was the turning point for her. Crisis comes in many forms and guises though- from bereavement to illness to loss of a relationship. So what makes it a crisis or an opportunity?

Basically, as human beings we are either motivated by love or fear.  To treat events as a ‘crisis’ we are working on the premise that we should be working away from what we really don’t want- uncertainty, poverty, death, disease etc.  If we work from the basis of love and trust, we will view life in a very different way- we will be working towards making money, having great relationships and so forth, and ultimately having acceptance of what is happening right now, with the understanding that we can’t always know what is around the corner!

Here are some suggestions for turning an apparent crisis into an opportunity:

1. Get some perspective

Hindsight is a great thing, and in the midst of a crisis, it can feel as if there will never be an end to it. It’s always worth getting a new perspective on it as apparent crises can often give you the wakeup call you need to create major change and get you out of your comfort zone.

Reflecting on your own life, list every ‘crisis’ that you’ve had say over the last 5-10 years and ask yourself- “what learning or ‘opportunity’ came out of that?” If it is easier, pretend you are viewing it as someone else’s life and see what they might say about it and the events following the ‘crisis’. Did it make you get out of that relationship that wasn’t working or start a new career perhaps?

Do the same with the ‘opportunities’ and see how they compare- which gave you more learning’s? How can you apply this understanding to what is going on in your life now?

2. Take advantage of uncertainty

Going back to the two drivers for human behaviour- fear or love, think about what you can do differently to exploit the current climate of pessimism in both your personal and professional life. 
For example, is this the time to start growing your own veg on an allotment to save money or even create your own co operative?  How about looking at investing in the stock market and taking some calculated risks?  Remember, staying in crisis is about staying in your comfort zone and what is familiar; whereas opportunity is about having the courage to stretch yourself and your possibilities!

3. Create your own opportunities

In a current crisis situation, it is easy to get stuck and become bogged down with what is going wrong.  As a reframe, realise (from exercise 1) what positives have come out of past situations and then ask yourself some different questions. Ask: “what is one thing I can do in this moment/ hour/ day/ week to change this situation and move me forward?” Questions are powerful and can help or hinder you and asking the right ones can empower you to make the right choices, rather than stay stuck where you are.

Once you’ve done that, make a brainstorm of everything you can do after you’ve dealt with the crisis. For example, for my client with the redundancy, I asked her to brainstorm a list of every kind of thing she wanted to try- both personal and professional to aim to broaden her perspective on things. 

 Sometimes, we can become very narrow and rigid in our thinking and we need to look at our situation with new eyes.  For her, this in itself was a revelation as she ended up retraining as an Interior designer and setting up her own consultancy.  A lesson for us all to take that leap of faith!  As Susan Taylor said: “Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth”

Alexandra Bacon is a certified Advanced EFT Practitioner, Counsellor, Bach Flower Practitioner, Wellbeing consultant and Trainer. To book your personalised treatment session please call Alexandra on 01629 825968/ 07950 568635.