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With the current COVID-19 pandemic, “crisis” and “resilience” remain some of those words that you can hear all around these days. From the sanitary crisis that we are all experiencing at a global level, to the brewing geopolitical tensions already under way, there is a lot that can be learned.

But let’s start with a deeper exploration of the meaning of the word “crisis”? This could help us gain insights about how we will all deal with the current challenges facing us now.

I think that many years from now, we will certainly keep a memory of how hospital professionals are facing present challenges with great dignity and incredible courage. We can see it by ourselves, during a visit to the hospital for a family member or friend, and we can notice from these hospital heroes how crucial it is to face challenges straight in the eyes. We can see how they shape a solid confidence in their knowledge and training. They can gain a conviction that their knowledge can serve them in times of turbulence and uncertainties. Every elite professional knows how to handle the most uncertain and treacherous situation.

Indeed, when a crisis hits, there is no time to think or start building strategies in a hurry. You have to decide swiftly and quickly, without hesitation and doubt. That inner strength comes from the confidence in a contingency plan. You could define the latter as a series of measures designed in advance for a situation where the outcome falls largely outside of the expected goals. But what happens when that reality stands way outside of expected goals?

In other words, what are your contingency measures in a situation of crisis? And are you aware of the type of contingencies you will implement should the unknown stand in front of you? This is the kind of awareness that makes a big difference. You could either face a crisis situation with full confidence in your contingency measures, watching for the slightest sign of complacency. Or, you could fall into frantic panic and fear because of the unknown factors and lack of contingency measures.

By exploring the deeper sense of the word crisis, we can gain a better understanding of the situation we are experiencing today.

From the etymology of the word “crisis”, we learn that there is a double meaning. First, the medieval Latin tells us that it is about a violent and sudden manifestation of an illness. But then, the second meaning, going back to the earlier Greek word “krisis” refers to judgment and decision. Another way of expressing this double meaning would be to realize how crisis relates to pain but also to opportunity.

That’s the kind of awareness which allows you to decide swiftly and with resolute commitment, in a crisis situation.

So what kind of opportunity are we talking about? Despite the pain and suffering, there is no doubt that once the current COVID-19 crisis is all over, there will be tremendous lessons we will all have learned. Looking at it through that particular lens, we can see that we will have learned from four sets of following opportunities;

Opportunity to learn from ourselves: There is no doubt that the current global crisis is forcing us to look at ourselves deep inside and learn from our strengths and weaknesses.

Opportunity to build strength and resilience: From this deep inner exploration, we will be building stronger tools of resilience and strength.

Opportunity to weave networks of solidarity among ourselves: But even more important, we will also be learning that we are all in it together, as a human community faced with a common challenge. It will help us build stronger bonds of solidarity and community, across nations and continents, because that will be the only way we will be able to go through the challenge facing us.

Opportunity to build and forge internal values: And from these challenges, we will be able to forge our own internal sets of personal values, rooted into the common power of acting together.

Opportunity to widen the scope of what is possible and probable: That’s probably the most important of all these opportunities. A crisis will not leave us with the same capacity to perceive our world as before. In order words, it will have shalen us so much, it will have stretched our capacity to think and behave.

Precisely, because a crisis shakes our foundations, it will also have widened our capacity to imagine and to create. This is perhaps a source of hope and the light that we need in the present moment. But is this what is going to happen? Are we about to leverage the opportunities we just mentioned, or is it going to be business as usual, with an even disturbing postponement of all the challenges we have to face? Perhaps, the next few months are going to be a crucial turning point that we will have to negotiate with great caution.

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