The way we deal with a crisis defines us as leaders and as human beings. 3

from book

Sometimes, in the middle of a successful career, something comes along and turns everything on its head. Our company falters. We’re fired by the board. The investors pull the funding. But in the midst of such crisis, true leadership qualities can be born. Just consider the case of a good friend of the author, Chad Dickerson, the former CEO of the e-commerce website Etsy. When Etsy’s board fired him, rather than sinking into depression and inactivity, he continued to work late into the night during his few remaining weeks at the company, looking out for his colleagues and making sure that company data was correct. He remained as solidly reliable as he always had been. Such moments of crisis are the great tests of leadership – if we can emerge from them with grace and steadfastness, then no matter the severity of the blow, we’ll become better leaders, and better people. This is what leadership expert Warren Bennis calls the crucible moment. It’s only under extreme pressure that we learn that we can face the worst with courage, humility and inspiration. We come out the other side with new confidence. It’s always best to face the crisis head-on. Take the tale of Milarepa, the tenth-century Buddhist saint and teacher. One day he left his meditation cave to gather firewood, then returned to find it full of demons. He waved his arms at them, trying to shoo them out. But they stayed put, and simply multiplied. So he taught them Buddhism. And the demons sat down and were quiet.  But they didn’t leave. So Milarepa asked them, “What are you here to teach me?” Stumped, the demons began to disappear, except for one enormous demon with great fangs. Exasperated, Milarepa put his head in the demon’s mouth and said, “Eat me if you wish.” With that, the demon vanished. Milarepa surrendered to his demon and was rewarded with this freedom. As a leader, you too can choose to face your demons head-on. For instance, if you’re in a business partnership that has become toxic, the best thing to do is put your head in the demon’s mouth, so to speak, by confronting your partner. You’ll either resolve the relationship, or it will break. But either is preferable to stumbling on in toxicity.