A crisis is a disruption in one’s life story, whether the particular disruption is personal, professional or political. That’s why every crisis requires creative vision, in order to emerge with as little damage as possible—or, preferably, stronger than ever.
In the midst of the crisis, it can be difficult to see the possibility of surviving intact, let alone thriving. And that’s why having someone on board who can see that potential and move methodically toward it is so important.
First, let’s begin with the matter of mindset: I always tell anyone I work with who is faced with a crisis—however daunting it may seem—that the universe intends for the circumstances at hand to partly or substantially remake, not destroy, that individual. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be stress (maybe great stress) involved in the transformation. Life teaches tough lessons, at times. But the end result can always, always be a new beginning.
That mindset should be embraced like an amulet that can protect the person in crisis from becoming paralyzed by panic. The best questions to be asking oneself when crises arise are:
1) In what way am I being asked by the universe (or God, if you are a religious person) to become stronger?
2) How can I use everything that unfolds during this crisis to educate and enlighten people to positive lessons about what I am learning about myself, my company or the world around me?
3) After this storm passes (which it will), what new horizons will I see laid out before me?
Next, start “writing.” I put that word in quotes because narrative isn’t always the written word. Getting to the next chapters of your life story, or your political campaign’s, or your company’s may involve shoring up your connections with key stakeholders, getting your messaging about the crisis in order, putting that message out, thinking about a next galvanizing project and beginning that project. Precisely what that messaging should be, and that project should be, is the heart of the strategic craft of crisis management. Every element of the plan should be authentic to the individual executing it.
There is a real way forward. The creative crisis manager helps define what that path is and then walks it alongside the person or the people who find themselves in a storm.
If this sounds like leaning into the wind, it is. And anyone who has been in a storm knows it is the only way to make progress.
I like the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
Keith Ablow, MD