"Observe the opportunity."

-- Ecclesiasticus iv. 20
FACT: The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word "crisis." One brush stroke stands for "danger"; the other, for "opportunity."

I would guess that most of us in the Western Hemisphere rarely think of crisis as bearing any gifts of opportunity. And indeed, at the moment of crisis, the red lights and sirens are going off and there is absolutely no thought to anything except survival or returning to a state of sure footing.

But with some perspective behind us, we often can see the opportunity that comes from crisis. For example, 11 years ago my children had to undergo the crisis of a divorce. A few years later my middle daughter was able to reflect on this crisis in her life and say, "I can see some good that has come out of this terrible situation. I am a different (better) person because of it." Wow! She was mature before her time.

September 11 was (and continues to be) a time of personal (for many), national and international crisis. However, as a result of this crisis many have taken the opportunity to look deeper into themselves to discover what is really important, to move towards living the life they truly want, to being more thankful for what they have - particularly their loved ones.

This past year I have witnessed many of my coaching clients shifting from exclusively business topics to more personal issues such as spirituality, personal well-being and wellness.

I don't believe that crisis happens so we can learn and grow. However, I do believe that in spite of the danger within crisis we can also find the opportunity it presents. What happens happens, sometimes we have absolutely no control. But I do believe that we can control and are responsible for how we respond to the crisis in our lives.

By Mershon Niesner, a certified personal/professional coach at www.mershonbell.com.
1. How will that second stroke look in your life?

2. Will it be a stroke symbolizing opportunity or will it be an incomplete stroke that continually spells danger?

3. What opportunities can you discover in the past and present crisis' in your world and life? How will you respond to them?

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September 20, 2002
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