Crisis Management

Isn’t there some Chinese symbol for crisis that means challenge and opportunity? Well, I think about that a lot these days. Part of the business of re-booting my life involves both—all day, everyday.


When I’ve talked about this transition I’m going through, some friends have sighed and told me how lucky I am, how they know loads of people who would kill for the opportunity to re-boot their life. Others have stared at me wide-eyed over lunch and said, “Wow! You’re really brave to try to start out all over again!”


Both statements are equally true: I am brave and I am lucky. While my particular re-booting journey is dramatic—uprooting myself from the place where I lived out my early adult years with family and friends, moving across the country without a job, and settling into my childhood room–I believe that each one of us has the chance to re-boot over the course of our life. What’s required is the courage and determination to make some change–whether it’s a more private, internal transformation such as a conscious shift in perspective as to how we think of ourselves or how we choose to react to the world around us or an externally obvious shift like changes in living situations, careers, or lifestyle.


It doesn’t really matter what the possible adjustment is as long as we take responsibility for what we choose to do about it. As terrifying as change can feel, when I think back to people I’ve known who were too afraid to change, too set in their ways to withstand the excruciating agonies change can mandate, or who were simply too tired to deal with the pushback they’d get from others should they try, well, it makes me sad.


There are lots of valid reasons not to change—valid, not good. You don’t want to anger your children or lose half your assets to a spouse you no longer want to be with, so you stay. You’ve got so much invested in a job you’ve hated for years, so you grit your teeth and hold on. You can’t imagine that there might be anything better “out there” waiting—you’re too old or not bright enough or have serious doubts anyone would help you along the way. So you defer indefinitely.


To feel better you tell yourself, “I believe in the sanctity of marriage.” “I’ve come so close on the XYZ initiative, if I left now all that hard work would be for nothing.” “I can stand it for a few more years and then we’ll see.” “I owe it to them to be here.” You hide by burying yourself in so much activity that you don’t have time to reflect. “I’m too busy to think about being happy.” You remind yourself that it’s more important to be responsible than to be fulfilled. And the you who is you, deep down, dies a little.


I argue with none of this. It’s all valid, it’s all responsible, but it’s also cowardly. I know because I’m a coward, too. Nobody likes change—certainly not the sort that has no guaranteed happy ending, and certainly not change that involves a seemingly unlimited duration of instability and unknowns.


But that’s where opportunity comes in, my friends. That’s where the freedom and the chance to make life as you really want it enters the picture.  What this requires is for you to have enough faith in yourself to get out of bed each morning, take a deep breath, and just try. Nobody else is going to give it to you; nobody else can. If you’re restless or unhappy, it’s up to you to figure this out. Please, please don’t hide behind whatever handy construct is available.


Life is about showing up.


I think about that Chinese symbol, and convince myself to take that first step each morning.

What about you?


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3 Responses to “Crisis Management”

  1. abitravel Says:

    “And the you who is you, deep down, dies a little…” I love this line. So true, as are the rest of your words about having the courage to change. Good essay. And, the more you write about it, the more courage you’ll have.

  2. Patrick Ross Says:

    Kudos on your bravery demonstrated here. I’ve heard the Chinese symbol thing may be a trope, but I definitely live the “life is showing up” motto; I believe that is Woody Allen. 🙂

  3. grasshopper Says:

    well said, and congrats to you! This is inspiring…and you are brave! You’ve come a long way….it is so hard to realize how much in life is really up to us, and to also realize that as long as we have life and health, there’s nothing that can be THAT scary. lol. right? thank you for writing this…it’s really wonderful.

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