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  • James Wylie

Crisis: Danger or Opportunity ?

Updated: Oct 10, 2021


There is a double meaning of crisis in the Chinese vocabulary. The meaning of crisis is actually made up of 2 characters. The first one is pronounced wei, which means danger. The second symbol means jei, which means opportunity. When combined together, it has the meaning of crisis.


It is interesting that the Chinese word for crisis requires two symbols. Obviously the symbol denotes a message of distress but combines it with a symbol for opportunity. While I am not here to debate nor get into the origins and the intended meaning of the symbols, I do want to point out the possibility that in a time of danger, there is also opportunity.


Take the example of the Tylenol scare about 25 years ago when the tablets were contaminated with cyanide causing deaths. Johnson and Johnson had to hurry and do some damage control by pulling all bottles and changed the packaging of the material to give the public that the pills were not tampered. The danger became an opportunity in that J & J pioneered and led the wave of new pill packaging with tampered proof seals. They took a major crisis and turned it around to their favor. J & J was praised for their crisis management and Tylenol were #1 in sales.


Another example is the self inflicted crisis of Coca Cola getting away from the old formula and marketing a new coke. The sales of the new coke plummeted because the public perceived a major digression from the original formula. What did Coca Cola do? They turned it around by re-launching the Coke Classic which eventually displaced the New Coke. Sales were better than beforThese are w Chinese symbols for Crisis. The meaning of crisis is actually made up of 2 word signs. The first one is pronounced wei, which means danger. The second symbol means jei, which means opportunity. When combined together, it has the meaning of crisis.

While there are crisis that do not have easy solutions or are indeed poses grave danger, try to look at the problem from a different perspective. The old adage of looking at the glass, half full versus half empty really does apply.


While a job loss is probably one of the most excruciating times for any working person to go through, it should not be taken as the end of their careers nor the road to financial ruin. How many stories have come about where professionals that have lost their jobs ultimately ended up in better positions than they would have possibly gotten had they stayed. Other stories include how people were forced to start their own business and came out ahead in many ways, maybe not financially but enjoyed working more. It is often said that while God closes one door, another door is opened. Keep that in mind as you deal with a crisis.


Remember the Tom Hanks film, Apollo 13. Discussions were going on how this was NASA’s biggest disaster to date. Gene Krantz, the Director of the Command Center, turned to the two men discussing this and said that he respectfully disagrees. The return of the 3 astronauts will showcase NASA’s finest hour in bringing them back safely after the damage to the space craft. Sure it enough, they did.


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