Turning Crises into Opportunities!

by Berthold Ebner | 08.05.2020

Crises are global, crises are individual, crises connect. This much can already be said with great certainty about the current Corona crisis. Those who are not directly affected by the virus are at least touched by the containment measures and by the social changes. Many negative aspects that make it difficult to look beyond. Yet, right now it is important to think about tomorrow. How do I get out of my personal crisis? What happens after the crisis? What opportunities are there for me? What do I need to focus on afterwards?

1. Three Steps Through a Crisis

To better understand the nature of a crisis, it is helpful to take a closer look at the different stages.

1.1 Rigor Mortis

At the beginning there are the emotions. Usually negative, such as anger, helplessness, and fear. Negative news, especially that which directly and comprehensively affects you, leads to a kind of shock or "not wanting to believe". These emotions are difficult to control by reason and rational information. Our rationality is emotionally undermined. The need for efficiency, trust in life, and in our body is shaken and hurt. This triggers attack or flight in defense against life-threatening situations in us.

1.2 Becoming Active

How do I free myself from the shock and start looking for solutions? People change their behavior through two things: through pain, or with joy. We want to avoid, bypass, or run away from bad emotions like pain. This is in contrast to joy and pleasure. These create a pull, good feelings from within motivate us to move towards something. Both factors "pleasure" and/ or "pain", makes us humans change our behavior. So, a reaction in the case of crisis, which is accompanied by negative emotions, can be that we want to become active and get out of the crisis.

1.3 Learning Effect

We are always smarter afterwards. Becoming active means defining goals, making changes and finding creative ways. When you have found the way for yourself, it is worth looking back. What have I learned from the crisis, what changes have I taken with me? It is important to analyze the crisis in retrospect and to recognize the positive effects, if any. Only then will I be in a position to act better in future crises with the existing experience and learning effects. In the best case, I can even avoid one or the other crisis.

An example: Perhaps you yourself have already lost your job, or you know someone who has been laid off. In the first moment, we are faced with nothing. We are forced to free ourselves from our rigidity and become active. The first step is usually to go to the employment office. Then, perhaps, a self-analysis follows. In the end, we may change our orientation completely and embark on a completely different career path. Many of those who have had this experience are glad in retrospect that they were pushed to make this change. If I now look at the reasons and try to learn lessons from them and do things better or simply differently in my next job, I have definitely developed further and taken something positive from the crisis.

2. Possible Ways Through the Crisis

2.1 How can the crisis be used positively?

A crisis in itself is first of all only negative. Crisis hurts. Only when we accept the crisis, analyze the crisis, draw the right conclusions from it, can the crisis become an opportunity. The question is: what has to happen for the crisis to become an opportunity? If you ask yourself this question, you will find answers and causes that have led you into the crisis. It is precisely from this that emotional forces grow. For example, we can often laugh about a crisis that we had in our lives at the age of 18 when we have 50 years of life experience. It is similar with mistakes: a mistake in itself has no value, no meaning. A mistake only acquires value through transformation, through the insight we gain from the mistake. Through the individual decision to derive a different action from the error in the future. That is why the term "error culture" is often used incorrectly. What moves us forward is a mistake-learning culture.

It is the same with the crisis. Viewed as an event, the crisis also has no value. Only through our own personal evaluation does it take on meaning. We give the crisis meaning through our perception filter. What is your personal filter, your value or behavior program? Do you see the crisis as a catastrophe, as a huge problem, directed from outside? Because of your tunnel vision, do you perceive reality only as a small section? Or do you see the opportunities to get out of your comfort zone through the crisis? Tackle things that have been postponed for a long time. Do you recognize necessary changes for yourself? What is good about the crisis? Again, the term learning culture is the right one. Crisis learning culture. What has to happen for us to learn from crises? That we turn them into victories and successes? Every winner stands on a huge mountain of defeats. However, no winner likes to talk about that.

2.2 Sphere of Influence

Let's assume I have a walking disability, maybe I am even paralyzed and depend on a wheelchair. I come to a flight of stairs that I cannot climb on my own. Then it is within my control to ask people to help me get up the stairs.

However, when our government restricts my personal rights, as it is doing now with the Corona crisis, I have no control over that. It is, however, in my interest that these civil rights all be restored in the shortest possible time. It is within my sphere of influence, on the other hand, to learn daily from this crisis, to tackle things that I have neglected so far. For example, I can do everything I can right now to gain more self-confidence, to strengthen my resilience, to focus on my core values, to deal with the question: what happens next?

In many cases, we cannot influence what happens to us, what events befall us. However, what we can always influence is our reaction to them. We can accept things that we can't change anyway. We can ask ourselves questions. The right questions. This will give us good answers. The quality of our questions determines the quality of our lives. Ask yourself: what is the good in this? What is the crisis trying to tell me?


Embrace the crisis wholeheartedly. Expand your horizons and your sphere of influence. What lessons will you take away from the crisis? Don't dwell on failure for long. Get out of the victim role and make active decisions. One insight from the crisis can be that the crisis is there for us to grow. How and through what do you grow out of the crisis?

Learn more about the topic:

Berthold Ebner, leadership trainer at Leaders Academy, will speak on the topic: "Turning crises into opportunities!" on Tuesday, June 16, at 10 am. The lecture is specifically geared to the PV industry, where the speaker has experienced previous crises himself as a manager and ultimately managed them successfully.

Click here to register!

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