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LIV President's Blog 2014

LIV President's Blog 2014

Geoff Bowyer, LIV President 2014 on the latest issues and topics. Read and comment.

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How a workplace crisis can improve your career

How a workplace crisis can improve your career

This week I was introduced to the concept that in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is made up of the characters for ‘fear’ and ‘opportunity’. This got me thinking about what are the opportunities of a workplace crisis? How can we quell the fear and embrace the opportunity of what is usually a pretty stressful and unpleasant situation? I’m not suggesting you rush to seek out a crisis in your office, but perhaps it might help to cope if we understood the potential benefits.

1. It can take you a giant leap forward: In a crisis we are often pushed to extremes in terms of what we can cope with. At work, it might mean we are put into situations we’ve never experienced before, and pushed to the limits of our abilities. But the benefit of this is that once the crisis has abated, your threshold of what you consider tough/challenging work will never be the same again and will remain permanently elevated. I remember years ago losing a major part of our business following a key person leaving the firm. The initial shock (read fear - what are we to do?) was turned around by looking at other opportunities which were ironically right under our nose and transformed our business.

2. Demonstrates the depths of your ability: Often a workplace crisis means all hands on deck and we are performing roles outside of our usual routine. This is an opportunity to impress colleagues and managers by remaining calm and confident in a stressful situation, and decisive in the face of hard decisions. Ultimately, the team member who solves a problem that threatens the company reputation or bottom line will be looked upon positively. I live by the adage that you judge people’s mettle in the tough times, as anyone can impress when the going is easy.

3. Makes you more resilient: Resilience refers to an ability to cope with problems and setbacks. It is a word we’re using a lot these days and it’s essential for our mental health and career longevity. Managing our way through a workplace crisis can help to build our resilience and improve our ability to cope when another strikes.

4. Builds your confidence: Did you realise you could present a crisis plan to senior management? Field hours of tough questions from an angry, disgruntled client? Spend a full day making fellow team members redundant? Experiencing tough situations like these is unpleasant, but it does build confidence to know that you have survived it – and hopefully it wasn’t as terrible as you had thought. This experience will make you view new challenges with less stress and anxiety. When I reflect what I can do and have done today compared to a decade ago I realise the only thing which got me here is a belief that I could do it.  Clearly others have done it before me so anything must be possible - just trust and believe in yourself.

But of course it’s also important to cope when you are in the midst of a workplace crisis to ensure you can make it out the other side to benefit from the ‘opportunity’. It will help to:

  • Reach out to loved ones and friends for support - that’s what they are there for.
     
  • Talk to your mentor and work out an action plan and ask for their advice on execution.
     
  • Take care of yourself by getting sleep, keeping up some exercise and eating well regardless of the situation.
     
  • Tap into professional support available to you, including the Victorian Lawyers Health Line for free confidential support on 1300 664 744.

I’m not suggesting in any way that we want to willingly make our life one big crisis, but there’s no doubt that in work and in our personal life, a crisis will at some point rear its ugly head. And when you are in the midst of that terrible time, it is worth remembering that somewhere an opportunity exists that will make your future career easier and more rewarding. Good luck!

 
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