Never Waste a Crisis!


“Never waste a crisis!”

This is a mindset I see from many people. It also happens to be a mindset I hope I don’t share. However, it is interesting to learn from this type of thinking if you want to communicate better with people.

Whether you like it or not, many people need a crisis to move them to action. This can be especially popular in politics where any disaster can be transformed into a mandate for action.  Sometimes this is probably very good, sometimes not so good.

A lesson here is that most skilled politicians have learned that crisis creates opportunity for a different type of communication. Crisis creates attention to an issue. It creates a valid opportunity for change that likely did not exist before. It creates fear (or anger or outrage).

Is this healthy? That is a matter of opinion. My opinion is that it can be very healthy or very unhealthy, depending on the situation. We are instinctively wired to react to danger. This has helped the strong and alert survive for thousands of years. Crisis, whether real or perceived, taps into this survival instinct to draw attention to a matter.

I don’t really believe that our attention to crisis is wrong. I believe our inattention to valid important matters is the problem. Why does it require a crisis to move people to take action or pay attention?

Are we overly bombarded with information to the point that only the information of threats gains our attention? Probably, at least in many cases. At the same time, I believe that we can each become lazy and fail to decide what is important in our lives and work. We wait for crisis and then respond.

The power of the web has made it easier to feel the impact of crisis around the world. Maybe we respond with an ongoing action and useful response that helps resolve the crisis. More often, all we do is express sadness or outrage to family, co-workers, or through posts on FaceBook. Then we wait for the next crisis.

If you desire to be more effective in your communication, your career and even your own fulfillment, waiting for each crisis as the tool to move forward will likely not help you reach your goals.

Likewise, if you learn to balance real crisis from the media and social winds, you are ready to start setting your own agenda of action and progress. Crisis and danger are real. They just are not all that moves the successful forward.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.