Some crises erupt without warning. An explosive, defining event (a diagnosis, an accident, an unexpected death) sends debris from our "before" lives ricocheting around us. Overcome with disbelief and grief, we grapple with the reality that nothing will be the same.
Other crises emerge slowly. A marriage that has simmered with tension for years finally boils over. We find ourselves depleted after years of being in a job that never fit our passions or talents, now wondering if we’ve wasted years of our life. The demise happens gradually, but wreckage remains all the same.
Whether through eruption or erosion, a crisis leaves us wondering how we will pick up the pieces. It's easy to feel powerless in those moments, but we actually have many choices that make all the difference.
Crisis as a Choice Point
The Greek word for crisis, krisis, means “to distinguish, choose, or decide.” In truth, crisis is more about the choices we make in the aftermath of challenge than any particular trigger. Think about the choices faced in each of these crisis contexts:
In all these contexts, successfully navigating a crisis requires that we make brave choices in moving forward. We’ve been thrown into the proverbial lion’s den without permission, but now it’s up to us to find a path out.
It’s in this very moment of vulnerability that we face possibilities for growth in equal measure to our pain. It's not easy, and we can't go it alone; but how we decide to go on matters.
Through the crises in our lives, be they small, big, personal, professional, or something all-encompassing (like Covid-19), we do have the choice to be curious or closed, reflective or reactive.
The Opportunity to Rebuild
Even in the midst of crisis, we have choices. We can reach out. We can ask for help. We can embrace both the freedom and responsibility to rebuild.
Instead of an "after-action review" (often used in organizational, medical, or public safety disasters), we can bravely face the disturbance of crisis by reframing its meaning in real-time.
This approach doesn’t diminish the turmoil that crisis brings. In fact, it often requires us to grapple with painful truths about loss and suffering more honestly. The outcome, however, can be transformative, enriching the quality and impact of our lives far beyond the crisis event.
This is a modified re-telling of a few pages from Chapter 2 of my book Never Waste a Crisis. The rest of that chapter explores the five elements of crisis (catalyst, collapse, complexity, confusion, and control) along with our physical, mental, and emotional responses to crisis.
Enter your information below to get Anne's newsletters straight to your inbox, exclusive access to blogs, and be the first to know about what's next. Let's grow through what we go through... together.
Welcome to Surviving and Thriving Together! I hope you find these resources inspiring and informative. You'll receive your free excerpt of my book in the first email - straight to your inbox shortly after you click Submit! I’m glad to be joining you on the journey.
*By submitting, you agree to share the information with the site owners & receive emails. Opt out any time.*