Businesses which embrace catastrophe can transform even the biggest crises into opportunities, writes George Jerjian.
When a crisis strikes in our personal or professional lives, for the vast majority of people it is akin to failure and disaster. Fear floods our brains and our thinking is impaired resulting in wrong decisions. Those few who welcome their crisis and steadily rise to meet the storm, are the ones who profit from this window of opportunity.
The word ‘crisis’ comes from the Greek for ‘decision,’ and the word ‘decision’ comes to us from the Latin meaning ‘to cut or sever.’ To decide means to choose, and once you choose, it means you have cut off all other options. In old English, the word ‘crisis’ meant a ‘turning point,’ usually for a disease. Each day, we all make one or two big decisions and hundreds of small decisions, any one of which could have ramifications well beyond that decision.
In May 1985, my dream of living and working in the US became a reality. Before moving to the US, my brother Chris and I reached an agreement with a British leather upholstery company to be appointedas their representatives in the US.
We opened an office in Hackensack, New Jersey, and we appointed a number ofshowrooms and galleries in design centres across major US cities to display, market, and sell our products to designers and architects. For two years, we operated with moderate success. However, I had not gone to the US to seek moderate success.
In mid-1987, my parents found themselves in a crisis with their commercial property investment near Princeton. The property management agent was the former owner, who had given his guarantee to the two mortgages on the property. He was now calling for my parents to invest significant monies to refurbish the property, which he was going to undertake as the contractor.
My parents did not wish to invest more, yet they could not fire the property management agent without triggering the payoff of the mortgages. They were in a dilemma, a crisis, if you will, with no apparent solution.
Chris and I saw an opportunity here, and we volunteered to sort it out for them. My knowledge of history and Napoleon’s war tactics proved most useful. We approached our lawyers in Hackensack, and through them, we were introduced to a leading local bank, which after due diligence on the said property, offered to give us one mortgage to pay off the existing two.
We then interviewed several property managers and selected one, who after thirty-five years is still working with us. We also appointed new accountants and new insurance brokers. On 3 April 1987, on my father’s sixty-seventh birthday, we sent three motorcycle couriers to fire the former property manager, the former lawyer, the former accountant, the former insurance broker, and the banks that held the two mortgages.
The whole operation was undertaken with military precision. The result of this crisis was that it had provided us with an opportunity to prove ourselves and emerge calm and confident from it. For us, this crisis had proved to be an opportunity in disguise.
The word ‘opportunity’ comes to us from the Latin, ‘ob portum veniens,’which means ‘coming toward a port.’ Opportunity therefore means the chance for safety, albeit after a crisis, but we must first weather our storm, confront our crisis.
When a storm is coming its way, the eagle will rise to meet it and will use the power of the winds to soar above the storm, where it finds calm and peace. Not unlike the eagle, when we rise to meet our crises, we can use the power of their winds to soar above the storm.
Think of a time when a crisis hit your life. Be honest with yourself. How did you feel? How did you react? Did you flee, or did you fight? Why did you take that action? What can you learn from this experience? If you had the opportunity to go back to that crisis, would you act differently? These are critical questions because they force you to confront your fears and then overcome them.
When crises occur in our lives, it is in a sense, a turning point, where our old life or an old way dies, and a new life or a new way opens up for us. Initially, we may see it as a catastrophe and fight against it, but when we look at it after a passage of time, we can see that it was a time for us to grow.
Life is a journey, and crises are finger posts showing us that we must move on. So, when a crisis comes into our lives, we must face it head on with courage and faith, and by cultivating gratitude in the midst of the crisis, not only can we find a way through it, but we can also reap a rich harvest.
George Jerjian is one of the UK’s leading communications specialists and a sought-after public speaker. Since 2017 he has worked alongside Bob Proctor, the acclaimed motivational coach, at the renowned Proctor Gallagher Institute in Arizona, US.
His new and 10thbook, Spirit of Gratitude, an uplifting spiritual memoir to help readers identify and overcome life’s challenges and crises, is out now on Amazon UK priced £9.99 in paperback. For further information visit www.SpiritofGratitude.com and www.GeorgeJerjian.com