Use it to get back on the path you need to be on.
by Idris Mootee
There were tours visiting our office last week. People were curious about what we do and what kind of people we hire. It is an interesting question. I guess our job is to help large companies go through mid-life crisis.
Crisis is a popular word these days and it seems like there are no shortages of them. We use the term in today’s economic, humanitarian, political and environmental climate. The word is much associated with extreme negative ‘tests’ of our human abilities or survival as a species. This is also a test on our intelligence and also a test of humanities and to what extend it exists.
How do we get out of this crisis and what can we learn from them? How many of our crisis are man made? How many of them are systemic? How many of them are truly avoidable? I think this is the big midlife crisis of capitalism and even humanity. Wherever a crisis occurs there are creative successes resulting from adversity and that’s not what you see when you’re in the middle of it.
Crisis creativity a fundamentally part of our human characteristics. War is no question the worst type of man-made crisis and lot innovations were attributed to war ironically. Here are some examples: The very first chemotherapy drug was developed from mustard gas, which ironically was the first weapon of mass destruction. Binging hospital equipment to soldiers in the South African conflict medicalized field dressings and X-rays were used, although initially the machines were large and cumbersome and could only be used in hospitals. During the First World War blood transfusions were performed in the battlefield, and saline transfusions for fluid loss were also used. Some branches of medicine, such as orthopedics, plastic surgery and rehabilitation, mainly benefited from the large number of war casualties and lessons learned under these conditions were applied to medical treatment for civilians.
So what crisis creativity can we get from the current midlife crisis of capitalism? Before we can delve right into how to cope with a midlife crisis we have to understand what it is. It is time when you realize your youth has passed by and it creates tremendous feelings of self-doubt. These feelings can lead to depression or worse self-destruction.
It is exactly what’s happening in the word of business and management. The idea of profit maximization at any cost is creating an imbalance and the many theories of management have proven itself to be flawed. A lot of retrospection and reflection needs to happen here…. assessing one’s goals and seeing how far one has come. Many start anew when they are in their mid-40s, the quintessential “mid-life crisis” is really just another manifestation of the search for self and transformation, whether it is for an organization or individual or even ideology.
What a person needs to do most when he or she is going through a crisis is gain control of his or her own life. Obviously when crisis occurs there is some external force we can’t control causing us great stress. Great stress creates great emotion. Double Whammy! For a person going through a mid-life crisis, he or she needs to do is to make change and commit to it. This is the point where it would be wise to actually map out your life. The same thing for business, there is no better time to map out the future of your business, bring in a new sense of purpose and energy to power up the organization.
Rethink about the past; reimagine the future and preparing for a big reset for it. Don’t waste this crisis, get something out of it. Crisis can create opportunity for change. Sometimes it takes a life shake up to put us back on the paths we need to be on.
Idris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.