For many years I have had over my desk a piece of “art” that is very meaningful to me. It is actually a postcard that a financial planner gave to me at some networking event over a decade ago. The postcard has two Chinese characters on it that stand for “crisis” and “opportunity.” When they are shown together they are supposed to mean “success.”
I really liked the postcard and had it professionally framed so I could hang it up and see it every day. Recently, I found the characters together again, this time on a decorative print in an online catalog. With them was the following quote:
“Every crisis carries two elements, danger and opportunity. No matter the difficulty of the circumstances, no matter how dangerous the situation, at the heart of each crisis lays a tremendous opportunity. Great blessings lie ahead for the one who knows the secret of finding the opportunity within each crisis.”
Through my own crises (and the blessings that have come from them), I have long been a believer that everything happens for a reason just like the quote suggests. In fact I have come to learn that the crisis in our lives is sometimes imperative for making needed changes and adjustments to reach our ultimate happiness and goals.
Need some examples of what I mean? Let me use a couple from my own life to illustrate how crisis can provide some amazing opportunities for growth, changes and opportunity.
When I was growing up my family was very poor. I wore hand me down clothes and my mom shopped at second hand stores and flea markets for a lot of things we needed. Meanwhile, I was a scholarship student at a local private school from kindergarten through 8th grade. While this was an amazing educational opportunity, it was somewhat of a challenge to be the “have-not” in a sea of “haves.” At the time it caused me a lot of personal embarrassment and emotional pain.
Several years after I left the school I ran into one of my wealthy former classmates while on a break from my job. We chatted briefly – about what I have no idea – but I walked away from the conversation with an amazing epiphany. I was the lucky one of us by growing up poor. Why? Because I appreciated everything I had growing up and everything I had worked to obtain on my own by working. I was also proud to be supporting myself financially and for becoming independent at an early age. What a break through!
Another example…after taking up running many years ago I developed shin splints in my left leg. As a massage therapist I used this pain and injury to learn about what would help it both on and off the table. This knowledge allowed me to help my clients who had the same problem – which made them feel better and put money in my pocket.
But what about in the spa? How can you use a crisis to create or discover an opportunity? Here are a few ideas…
- When a client comes to you with a complaint, you can use the information they give you to make changes that will improve your spa’s level of customer service or adjust the protocols in a particular service. You can also strengthen the client relationship by listening appreciatively and thanking them for taking the time to tell you which can lead to all kinds of opportunities in the future such as increased loyalty, referrals and more.
- When an employee makes a mistake (not offering to put your best client on an appointment waiting list when the service they request is not available, for example ), use the error as an opportunity to re-train that person or educate them and the rest of your staff on the value of a lifetime client (and cost of losing one.) You’ll smooth our internal procedures and help everyone to understand the real impact of their actions.
- When sales are slow, use the down time to reorganize your priorities, train staff or create new services. Allow that “pinch” to fuel your creativity in adding new marketing activities or events to drive in old and new clients alike. When things are busy, you’ll be better prepared and perhaps have a few new marketing tricks up your sleeve to boot!
So here is my challenge to you…think about the crisis in your life or business, past or present, and aim to find an opportunity or blessing hidden in it. Or take a look at past situations and circumstances in your life and acknowledge the opportunities for growth and learning that you gained as a result of them. Write down what you come up with so that you have tangible proof of how these difficulties and crises have actually made you a better person or improved (or are improving) your life and/or business in some unexpected way.
The bottom line is that no one wants to have problems or unfortunate events in their lives. But by taking the time to look for the gifts and possibilities in each situation, we do become better people and business owners. And that is the biggest opportunity I can think of.
Felicia Brown, LMBT
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