Crisis: Danger or Opportunity?

Written by Briana Cavanaugh

September 25, 2008

About Black Monday in 1987…
“I was reminded of the written Chinese character that, depending on the context, defines ‘crisis’ as ‘danger’ or ‘opportunity.’ We realized that, although the stock market would do what it would do, when we let go of the conversation of fear and anxiety, and created a different conversation focused on the bounty of our lives – then out fear subsided. When we approached the circumstances without the noise of fear and high anxiety, the ‘crisis’ lost its drip on us; the experience of ‘danger’ did, indeed, transform into opportunity.” – Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money

I’ve been thinking about what to write to support people in dealing with what’s being touted as a huge economic crisis. I have a deep need both to contribute positively to the lives of people – both in my practice and community – as well as a desire to change the framing of the conversation.

In re-reading “The Soul of Money” by Lynne Twist, I realized that I have the perfect opportunity right here in this critical moment. The banking system has manufactured a crisis. It is effecting people and it is frustrating and scary and sometimes totally overwhelming. There is danger here. Acknowledging that is crucial to being able to do something else.

And what a blessing. I see two big opportunities here:the first is to count our own, non-material assets and blessings and the second is to get to look at the banking and credit systems cracked open. There’s more information available right now about banks and credit than there’s ever been. The opportunity to really review what the banking system does and how it functions is a gift. We rarely even consider who we bank with unless something is going on – substantial fees or opening an account or applying for a mortgage. Most people seem to stay with their bank for a long time, sometimes lifetime relationships. So getting a a real chance to see how they work and what decisions they make and how those effect us gives us insight into our own choices.

And there’s a real opportunity to take a step back and look at who we, as human beings are. Who do you love? What do you teach? How are you enough just as you are? Who loves you? Who’s lives do you touch every day? And most importantly for me, how do we come together in times of crisis to turn that danger into opportunity?

One of the things that I love about my work is that I get an opportunity to reach deeply into people’s lives and really help them explore something that they often haven’t talked openly about with anyone else – money. I am really blessed with clients and friends who have a deep willingness to look at the choices they make and then do what they really want to do in their lives. Getting to watch that process and be included in that is an amazing gift. I’m very grateful to have this work in my life.

I do have 3 spaces in my practice right now. If you know someone that you’d like me to work with or who might be open to this level of support – in business or personally – please let me know.

P.S. I am aware that the “crisis=danger + opportunity” is sometimes framed as a myth. That idea is based on the character ji being translated as “incipient moment” or “crucial point.” I think that opportunity comes at a crucial moment and the interpretation of opportunity as solely positive and without any hint that there might be danger does not reflect the connotations of current usage. Plus, dude, I’m quoting someone who has a good idea, it’s all about interpretation.


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