Crisis Always Has A Silver Lining
February 12, 2020
I was to present to the global head of the business and about 10 of the senior most members of the organisation. I was young and on a fast track. I had a reputation and the management team was keen to know what I had to share.
The presentation started and in about a couple of minutes into the presentation, I had a panic attack. Beads of sweat broke out on my forehead for everyone to see. I was choking on my words. I completely forgot the structure and flow of what I had to say. The rest of what happened is a blur in my memory. I felt like an absolute loser. I lost all sense of self esteem. For weeks, I could not look at my colleagues in the eye , out of embarrassment.
I had a choice to make. Do I let the person take the rap or do I stand up to defend to defend him and in turn face the consequence, of going up against my own boss.
I decide to stand up for what I thought was right. That decision set in motion almost 6 months of hell where I was hounded , vilified and beaten down. I was deeply unhappy.
Both the scenes described above are real and when they happened , I thought that was the end of my career. Even though I feel differently now, these incidents remain two of the most embarrassing and most stressful experiences of my career.
After the first incident, I took to improving my public speaking skills so as to never to encounter such a scenario again. My personal confidence improved in direct proportion to my public speaking skills. It was a skill I needed to grow as a leader.
But strangely, I also credit these 2 experiences for the transformational impact they had on me.
The second incident helped me connect with my core values of morality, honesty and courage to stand up to authority and fight for what I believed to be right. I realised that I had oodles of inner strength that was not tested before. I evolved as a leader.
Life and career will not always be a smooth ride. There will always be bumps along the way. Bad Mistakes, Difficult bosses, ill defined roles ,failure to deliver results, bad relationships, toxic workplaces, Job loss.. etc.
No one ever seeks out problems or challenges. They happen when we least expect them or when we are ill prepared . They test our strength, expose hidden vulnerabilities, connect us with our core values and convictions. Difficult times teach us lessons that good times can never.
Problems and challenges are character defining.
The true test of our character is not how we operate in comfortable situations but how we are in contentious and stressful situations. Do we let the challenge or issue overwhelm us or do we bunker down , focus on overcoming the challenge by building capability, skills, new habits -whatever it is that may require us to change in order to grow from the experience.
A crisis always brings pain but it also has a silver lining- The possibility of personal transformation.