One way I like to measure personal growth is to to consider how one handles a crisis.
Crisis is one of those dirty little words in life we simply cannot escape. It is a constant companion that may take a brief vacation from time to time, but it always knows its way home to you! When speaking about crisis, I always love to point out an amazing lesson on crisis from the Chinese perspective. The word for crisis in Chinese is made up of two characters. Individually, they are danger and opportunity. I could almost end this blogpost right here! The self-evident lesson in the idea that crisis is made up of danger, as well as, opportunity is pretty immense and has great application in our everyday life.
First, I want to just make solid the point that when crisis enters our life, whatever form it takes, we tend to only see the danger aspect of it. If we take a moment to take a breath and understand that hidden within the danger of the moment there is a hidden gem of opportunity of one type or another it should guide our every decision during the course of the current calamity.
The evaluation of personal growth in the midst of crisis is, or at least can be, summed up in the statement that mature people will respond to the crisis while immature people simply react. Reactions tend to almost always lead to bad or unintended consequences while deliberate, thoughtful decisions made in response to the calamity will tend towards the betterment of the mature individual.
Using the crises in my life that have guided me for quite some time may help you to understand somewhat of what I am trying to convey. The loss of my eyesight is something I have had to deal with for practically all of my life. It has been a long, gradual decline, but hit a crescendo on November 14,1999 when I finally lost my driver’s license. We can also look at the crisis of cancer some seven years earlier. First, with respect to the crisis of lost freedoms with the loss of my license; the danger there was obvious. I was faced with potentially falling into the trap of forever being completely dependent upon others for pretty much everything in life. Couple that with the crisis of facing my own mortality during the cancer crisis which taught me to live life with a sense of urgency and you can see how my path ultimately was directed by seemingly terrible events. I say seemingly because in the end they did not destroy me, but have taught me valuable lessons over the years. I cannot write this and say with any honesty that I have always responded to these challenges! There were plenty of reactions —reactions that cost me dearly in terms of lost time, various kinds of setbacks and emotional pain. Will you make mistakes along the road? Of course! If you are an adult reading this, you can likely point to a long list of reactions that have cost you dearly. That is ok as long as you learn from them and grow to the point where you learn and recognize as each new crisis comes along that you need to slow down and respond rather than react. Recognizing the need to do this in and of itself is a sign of maturity. Have you ever reacted to a situation off the cuff, perhaps even in anger and later looked back at it saying, “boy that was a great decision I made in danger.” I think not! But when we feel the urge to react, we should allow this to be our flashing sign to pull back, slow down and think things through and look for the hidden opportunity within the immediate crisis. It may come to the forefront quickly, or it may take a little time. It is ok to wait and act from a place of patience and wisdom.
The opportunities are there. Commit to yourself now to seek them out in every crisis!