Chapter 1


In 1959 John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in which he said, ‘When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.’ Since then this insight has entered popular culture and is widely used in politics and business and by inspirational speakers the world over.

There is no doubt that crisis presents both danger and opportunity, but this much-loved interpretation isn’t actually accurate. A more faithful translation of the two characters that make up the Chinese symbol for crisis would be ‘danger’ and ‘crucial point’. Most people take crisis to involve some sort of personal or professional emergency that must be weathered. It doesn’t. At least it doesn’t have to. If you look up crisis in your dictionary you will find that the definition usually refers to a ‘crucial or decisive moment or turning point’. In fact, the word itself comes from the Greek word krinein — to decide. A crisis therefore is a call to action — a situation or event that demands your attention and forces you to decide how to react and what to choose for yourself going forward.

Events, situations and circumstances do not in themselves create crisis. What creates the danger that is inherent in crisis is an unwillingness to face the truth and take constructive action to change the outcome.

For example, when it comes to a crisis, they don’t come much bigger, certainly ...

Get Bounce Forward: How to Transform Crisis into Success now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.