Creativity in a Crisis
A common meme in Western culture, used widely in motivational business speak, is that the Chinese characters for ‘crisis’ contain separate brush strokes that represent ‘opportunity’ and ‘danger’.
While experts argue this belief – driven in part by a famous John F Kennedy quote in 1959 – is not technically true, I like the symbolism of this interpretation (or misinterpretation, as the case may be), especially in the strange new environment we find ourselves in.
This COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and will cause, a seismic shift in how we go about our life and business. So, with the balancing act between opportunity and danger in mind, I have put together a series of articles called Creativity in a Crisis and in this, my first one, I’m looking at the power of the trigger event.
Creativity in a Crisis, Part I: Is This Your Trigger Event?
Have you ever noticed how people often blame their inability to break out of a rut or make necessary changes in their professional or personal lives on circumstances they see as being outside their control? Those circumstances might be the stage their kids are at, the state of their finances, a partner’s work commitments or the requirements of their own job.
But it’s amazing how focused on and committed to change they can become when the thing out of their control is a bigger, impactful event. This is what you would call a trigger event. It could be something positive, such as a job promotion, career pivot or relocation. Or it could be the loss of a job, a family breakdown or sudden illness.
My biggest trigger event (I’ve had a few, but none as traumatic as this) was the loss of my life partner just six weeks before my 40th birthday. That was more than 10 years ago and I can say it catapulted me into a new self. I have so much more courage now than ever before.
My sincere hope, however, is that none of you will have to rely on trauma to prompt the change/s you probably know you need and want. But it is worth thinking about what would be your trigger.
What will it take?
When I am speaking to finance professionals, either one-on-one or from a stage, I like to ask the question: What will it take for you to do something differently?
Through my interactions with finance leaders in recent months, I have detected a common thread of disappointment. Many are disappointed that their careers are not delivering above their first layers of personal needs – that is, financial security (through good salaries and/or investments) and social interaction (through workplaces and teams). That might sound to some like it should be enough, especially if you are someone still seeking those outcomes or who has suddenly found yourself out of work, but these professionals are wondering where the sense of fun, satisfaction and fulfilment is?
Perhaps they can’t see out of the hole they are in. They might feel helpless and unable to make challenging moves either for themselves or to disrupt or help the business to pivot.
First, I must say it’s a positive step for people to be aware of their areas of weakness and great that they want to make changes. But I am curious as to how badly they want that change to happen. Have they been triggered sufficiently to take the necessary steps?
Is now the time?
I wonder if the current COVID-19 crisis will be the trigger for many. If you define crisis as being the tipping point between danger and opportunity, this could be the moment when we see a lot of people who have been clinging on to the status quo now taking the leap out of their comfort zones.
Perhaps the danger will encourage us to take risks we wouldn’t have taken before, possibly because we now have nothing to lose.
This is where my second favourite questions comes in: What Have you got to lose? Well …?