Five benefits that come, just from looking for the opportunities in a crisis

Not every tricky situation we face will lead us to a world-changing innovation like penicillin or Uber.

But having the attitude that approaches problems as if they contain such opportunities will always bring us five important benefits:

  1. A feeling of inspiration and emotional engagement:
    Looking for opportunities is more inspiring than fixing issues. It builds emotional engagement, which is good for morale and improves productivity and results.
    As Napoleon said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Simply looking for the opportunities creates that hope.
  2. Deeper understanding:
    Searching for the opportunities in a situation forces us to let go of our assumptions about the situation. Finding deeper understanding will always be useful, no matter which direction we then decide to move forward in.
  3. Greater durability and impact:
    When John Cleese was writing sketches with the Monty Python team, his colleagues would often stop when they got to the first punchline. Cleese would keep working until he found the second, third, or even fifth level of comedy. This was harder work and took longer but the results he created were stronger, funnier, and longer lasting.
    If you want to generate outcomes that are more remarkable, last longer, or connect at a deeper level than your competitors, learn to look for the ten types of opportunities that lie beyond the obvious solution or the quick fix.
  4. More choice, more control, and more determination:
    By choosing not just to see ‘problems’ but to look for the opportunities in any situation you retain more control over your destiny. And even if you end then up choosing the same path as before, you now make it a deliberate choice between a wider range of alternatives, instead of something you were forced into.
    This puts you back in control.
    And that makes you more confident that you have chosen the best available option, which adds vigour and enthusiasm to your implementation.
  5. Antifragility:
    Looking for the opportunities in a situation is another step towards making us and our organisations what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls ‘antifragile’.
    Objects, people, and organisations that break under stress we call ‘fragile’. Objects, people, and organisations that survive under stress we call ‘robust’, ‘strong, or ‘resilient’. And objects, people, and organisations that actually use stress to become stronger, Taleb calls ‘antifragile’. You can’t become antifragile if you don’t at least look for the opportunities.

These five things together are the core of what Inner Leadership is about: generating more inspiration and engagement, building deeper understanding, staying in control, and finding more robust ways forward that will last.

Ultimately, Inner Leadership is about learning to use any situation to make ourselves and our organisations stronger, antifragile. That process begins in the moment we decide to look for the opportunities in a crisis — whether we then find a world-changing solution or not.

Would any of these five benefits be useful to you? Have you looked for the opportunities that might be hidden in a ‘crisis’ you are currently facing?

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

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Photo By Eduardo Unda-Sanzana via

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