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In a crisis, do you take advice from the dumbest person in the room?
January 13th, 2015

In a crisis, do you take advice from the dumbest person in the room?

Too often, our intelligence is overwhelmed by our emotions in the middle of a personal crisis. When neither flight not fight is appropriate, we are intellectually bereft. We become, in effect, the dumbest person in the room.

We all suffer crises in our lives, but we all don’t agree on just what the word means and how the crisis will affect us. When I asked some people for their definition of a crisis, one of the most common responses was disaster. Others suggested danger, catastrophe, tragedy and similar words. But that’s not really what crisis means according to those who assemble dictionaries, such as the people at Oxford. The core of the word’s meaning has nothing to do with emotional pain and distress. Here is how the Oxford Dictionary, still the ultimate arbitrator in the English language, defines the word crisis:

A turning point in the progress of anything; also, a state of affairs in which a decisive change for better or worse is imminent.

                No mention of disaster. No reference to danger or tragedy. Nothing to suggest heartbreak or misfortune. The Oxford tells us that crisis means change. If you can remember that the crisis you are enduring does not necessarily mean devastation to your life and happiness, you will be better equipped to follow the steps I’ll explain and deal with your situation.                            

A crisis is not necessarily an ending, a pause or a total stop. It is a turning point. Something is changing, or about to change. Your control over how things are changing may be limited, but your reaction to the change is entirely in your hands. If your reaction is to remain emotionally paralyzed, unable to respond in any manner, you lose control over the path the crisis will follow.

The above is an excerpt from Frank O’Dea’s book “Do the Next Right Thing: Surviving Life’s Crises”

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