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“Never Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste”: 4 Ways Of Turning Crisis Into Opportunities


Who said it first?

While Winston Churchill has been credited with the very first use of the quote “never let a good crisis go to waste”, the authenticity of the claim is still debatable

If he had, at all, mothered the quote, it was probably spoken in connection with the creation of the United Nations.

Back in the year 1945, the “power trio” consisting of the allied leaders: U.S president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, had met in the City of Yalta, famously renowned as The Yalta Conference, to discuss the fate of the vanquished Germany and soviets entrée in the ensuing Pacific war against Japan.

The most reliable source of the quote, however, is dated back to the year 2008, and spoken by Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Congressman, and the Chief of staff under the presidency of Barrack Obama, against the backdrop of the ongoing global Economic crisis.

Image by cstm-mstc/ creativecommons copyright 1941

The Ambiguity of ‘Crisis’

The implication behind the statement of Rahm Emanuel ‘ never let a good crisis go to waste ‘ is quite simple. Never allow a problem to drag you down, no matter how heavy it feels.

Use your misfortunes as an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.

Or In the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“It’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up.”

Over the years, people have fell victim to calamities, whether natural or man-made, and that has made survival more difficult.

Hence the question arises, how can crisis ever be considered ‘good’?

Life is a journey, often troublesome, and most of the time unforgiving, and crises are an inseparable part of our lives. What, then makes a crisis ‘good’ is the way we greet it.

We have showcased the contrast between two of the landmark examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ crisis management for better understanding:

1. The ‘Good’ Management

In 1982, as many as 7 people died in Chicago after taking Tylenol capsules which were suspected to have been tempered with cyanide.

The parent brand, Johnson and Johnson decided to safeguard the interest of their consumers rather than investing their time in proving their innocence by recalling all the products from stores all around the nation which would cost them more than 100 million dollars.

They halted all product advertisements and issued warnings to not consume their product. The company’s CEO James Burke gained much appreciation for his honesty as even after being proven innocent, his company did not try to dodge responsibilities.

His virtue paid off when the company retained all of its lost assets in less than a year’s span. He, thus, held true to the quote, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”

Image by Ragesoss/ creativecommons copyright 2008

2. The ‘Bad’ Management

The next example presents in detail how an already devastating crisis can take a turn for the worse.

One in every four people among the age range of 18 to 24 contemplated suicide in the month of June 2020 according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the years, children and especially teenagers have found it increasingly difficult to cope with peer pressure.

children belonging to families with lesser fortune are unable to avail information online due to their inability to afford smartphones or laptops causing them to spiral down the lane of despair

The result of which is a feeling of anxiety and a fear of being left behind which cause them

The inability of the authorities to provide for such students and take care of their mental health is a classic example of a crisis turned bad.

The Inevitability of The Present Crisis

“ Never let a good crisis go to waste “

But how exactly does this particular ensemble of words affect our circumstances, you may ask?

How can we possibly make any gains from our current state of affairs?

What are the takeaways we put in our bags as we prep ourselves to go forward in life?

What we understand from the quote, “Never let a good crisis go to waste” is that no crisis is bigger than us. It all lies in the perspective. If you think you can overcome a difficultly, no amount of power can break your determination. Your will is what gets you going.

A crisis of sorts, however unwelcome, can provide us with a number of possibilities to understand ourselves better, probably tie up the loose ends of the thread and start afresh, spend quality time with our families.

And most importantly, to keep ourselves first.

Turn Misery Into An Opportunity

Picture by kevin dooley/ creativecommons copyright 2010

“Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

The question thus arises, how can we turn crises into opportunities?

How is the quote, “never let a good crisis go to waste” relevant in our case?

In What Ways Can We Maneuver Our Miseries Into A Fortune?

1. Acceptance

The first step to reverse the horrifying effects of an inevitable crisis is acceptance. Even if it is a physical, social, or mental crisis, to win the fight, you have to be present in the fight.

Adapting to the problem and changing our perspective can help us see the difficulty in a new light

2. A friend in need

A crisis, no matter how unwelcome, can help us shed light on things we have been blind to, before. During a crisis, you realize what and who matters in your life, who is there in the hour of need.

A crisis provides us with a number of possibilities to familiar ourselves with, help us recognize our priorities, and most importantly, to put ourselves first.

During such difficult times, we can truly explore our strengths and weaknesses and also the areas that need improvement. Self-assessment is key

3. The future ahead

What gets us through a tough time is hope. Years have piled upon years and we have been increasingly saddened by all the news of the most heinous crimes around us

It is scary, the world we live in. But as the sea of despair swallows us whole, we hold on to the silver of hope.

Viewing the current crisis you are stranded in as a meager part of the whole helps heal your mind to look for possibilities beyond your problems.

To help yourself deal with the issues at hand try looking at the bigger picture and the greater scheme of things.

4. Breaking free of our comfort zone

Change is the only constant of life. Personal Grown and development are only attained when we push out of our familiar space or our safe haven.

A crisis drags us harshly out of that and puts us right in medias res, Latin for the middle of things.

By doing so, it helps us cope with our difficulties better. We are benefited in the long run, even with the lack of an apparent result. Thus, never let a good crisis go to waste by not grabbing the opportunity served to you.

Lessons learned


Of all the lessons learned and shared among ourselves, the most important would definitely be humanity.

Be human in your approach to the crises that arise in life. Nothing can quell a burning wound better than a healing touch. Be there for people that matter to you, lend them a helping hand. After all, what goes around, always comes around.

Power in ‘Us’

The saying goes “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, which is true in most cases, but during a crisis, the more we stick together, the quicker we can get rid of the problems. There is always more strength in Unity. Together we can uproot the cause of our miseries and bring back the dimmed luster of our faces.


Find newer and better ways to deal with the situation at hand. Seek help if necessary. Be true to yourself. Never let a good crisis go to waste or bog you down.

Breaking free of our comfort zones can help us realize ourselves better and can make us see new avenues to mitigate the difficulties. Seeing the problem with a different lens can provide us with solutions we couldn’t see before.


Photo by viviandnguyen_/creativecommons Copyright 2013

What we can decipher from the quote is that people should not wallow in their misfortune but rather turn it into an opportunity to do things they have been putting off for so long.

A crisis, however unwanted, provides us with opportunities to explore our inner lives, to tie the loose ends of the thread and start afresh, spend quality time with our families and with our own selves.

The most important takeaway, that a crisis has to provide us with, is ‘Gratitude’, the most potent tool to vanquish the ever towering heaps of despair.

Always have a heart filled with goodwill and love, for, the most effective way through a crisis and to make the best out of the worst is through the path of gratitude.

While venturing into the unknown always have gratitude for the love we receive.

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