Appreciate the crisis

Writing this in the summer of 2020, we probably have shared experiences of living through a crisis. Our challenges are unique, but the crisis of COVID-19 has likely affected both of us. Of course, it is also most likely not our first encounter with a crisis. To be alive means to know crisis.

In The CEO of Slack on Adapting in Response to a Global Crisis, Stewart Butterfield writes about Slack’s changes in response to the spread of COVID-19. Here is my favorite line from that article:

I’ve always believed in the adage “Never waste a crisis,” and during this one I’ve tried to encourage Slack’s executive team, employees, customers, and investors to lean into that idea.

Never waste a crisis. I like that a lot.

This was previously similarly expressed as “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.” (Niccolò Machiavelli), “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” (Winston Churchill) and “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” (Rahm Emanuel).

A crisis is by definition difficult. It also presents an opportunity — at minimum for leadership, learning and growth. Things are at stake. Recognize it and appreciate it for what it is. Do not waste it.