Choosing to learn from a ‘crisis’ brings you five more opportunities

Ten years ago the challenges you face today probably would not have arisen for you: you were likely in a different role and you probably didn’t have the skills or experience to be able to do what you can do today. In the same way, situations you found challenging then are probably routine for you now.

The abilities you have today are a direct result of the challenges you faced in the past. This means the challenges you face today are actually opportunities for you to develop into the kind of person you want to become.

This brings you five more opportunities to move forward:

  1. Apply your existing skills
    Here you can choose address the situation by using the skills you already have. This turns the so-called ‘crisis’ into an opportunity for you to practice or demonstrate your existing abilities.
  2. Develop or Improve your skills
    Here you use the situation as an opportunity to expand your abilities: perhaps by developing a new skill or by applying your existing abilities to a situation that is significantly larger or more complex than you have faced before. Now the so-called ‘problem’ is actually an opportunity to learn and grow.
  3. Transform your abilities
    This is the ultimate opportunity: to learn the skills that could have prevented the crisis from happening in the first place. As Sun Tzu said, “The greatest general is the one who defeats an enemy without fighting.”

If none of these options seems appropriate then there are two more you can look for:

  1. Ignore the situation
    Even though you could apply your existing skills or learn new ones, you might choose to ignore the situation and just live with it. You might do this because you have other higher priorities that matter more to your purpose and values. Or you might want others to learn and develop their skills. In this way, not engaging with the so-called ‘problem’ becomes an opportunity for you to improve your abilities to prioritise, to delegate, or to develop your team.
  2. Remove your skills to somewhere else
    A final option is to choose to use the event as a trigger to move into a different role: perhaps one that has more meaning for you, that better matches your needs, or that will develop or reward you better. In this case, the so-called ‘crisis’ now becomes the event that nudges you to stop putting up with a situation that doesn’t serve you and prioritise yourself instead.

Together with the five types of outcome you can choose to create, this gives you a total of ten types of opportunity you might be able to find in any situation.

Simply looking for these opportunities will bring you benefits. And by giving yourself up to ten types of options to choose between you make it more likely that you will find a way forward that works well for you, that inspires you.

All of this will make you more antifragile.

Are you facing a challenge or a ‘crisis’ today? Are you seeing it as a ‘problem’ or as an ‘opportunity’ to develop or expand your skills? How many options can you find under each heading? Which is the best way forward for you now?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)

Photo By Andrew Blight via

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