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Crisis as Response

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

A crisis is often defined by a moment of unexpected disaster: an airline crash, a bankruptcy or moment of personal failure. In a moment something changes and the world we knew is altered. We achieve “crisis” by these moments but a closer consideration shows that crisis is less about the drama and more the response.

In crisis we are forced to respond. A change to our reality requires us to develop new behaviors in order to cope with change. Herein the examples are common: disasters whether personal or societal apply. Too often we reflect on crisis as these moments of drama. This is not correct; instead, it is our response that defines crisis and the moments of heightened emotion stem not from initial dramas but reflections born after the event.

Dramatic events arrive without expectation. We are stunned when we hear of a disaster. Crisis comes here- this moment of realization and reaction and allows us numerous options of response. For many there are moments of crisis that do not warrant a response. A lone actor in a distant location will recognize his or her inability to affect a change and will choose instead to look away. Such inaction comes not from lack of concern but the realization that nothing can be done and a more pressing need exists. Reaction makes the difference.

When we consider crisis it is best to recognize the reaction as the feature that defines crisis. We decide our response and create the terms of the crisis. Over-reaction is dangerous but common when emotions are engaged. A smart response can control the crisis and lead us away from over-extension or misguided response. The cool head prevails and in crisis we are served best by knowledge that what we do is far more important that what is done to us.

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