Positive Crisis


What is a crisis? “A turning point in the course of anything; a decisive or crucial time.” You may be thinking, “Another crisis is the last thing I need!” But stay with me, because this strategy is incredibly powerful in it’s ability to catapult you toward goal achievement and life excellence.

I’ll begin by laying the foundation for this principle. First, let’s talk about two kinds of stress. There isDebilitating Stress, a feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control. This should be avoided, of course. An example of debilitating stress: a mother, driving her four children to a birthday party, was hit from the rear by a drunk driver. Thankfully, no one was killed, but two children sustained injuries, and were hospitalized. The car was completely totaled. On the very same day her spouse lost his job. Debilitating stress, with its accompanying traumatic emotions, will undoubtedly result. (That scenario is, of course, on the far end of the continuum).

The second type of stress is called Enabling Stress, and it’s a normal part of life. One example: a gentleman, wanting to provide well for his family and learn more about his profession, decides to take a certification class at night. Although he is stretched mentally and physically, he improves his skills and is later promoted as a direct result of his newly-acquired knowledge. Enabling stress is present when we’re motivated to study hard in school (to get good grades) and to excel at work (to get promoted). This kind of stress helps us develop our talents and contribute to the world in meaningful ways.

There’s a caveat here: if we allow it, enabling stress can become debilitating stress. Now, on to our discussion of positive crisis.

Positive Crisis is a part of healthy, enabling stress. It is defined as a compelling situation where time is critical and action is crucial. Positive Crisis propels you to action with an intense sense of urgency. It is a powerful technique that insures breakthrough achievement of your goals.

Intentionally introducing crisis into your life is positive and good when it gets you over the hurdles of inertia, doubt or laziness and serves as a catalyst for goal achievement!

The Positive Crisis “I ACT!” Success Formula

Identify the Unacceptable Behavior (behavior that is no longer acceptable to you; must change)
Action that Guarantees Success (an action with only one acceptable result: success)
Create a Compelling Consequence (consequence that makes failure abhorrent)
Time Frame (your action has a time limitation)


Examples applying the Positive Crisis I ACT! Success Formula:

Business person who procrastinates

• Identify unacceptable behavior: procrastination
• Action: called three clients to meet with him
• Consequence: told boss that he could join the meeting
• Time: scheduled the meeting at 10am on Friday morning

Disorganized woman

• Identify unacceptable behavior: disorganization
• Action: called and invited a friend to visit
• Consequence: told friend she’d see “the cleanest house in the city!”
• Time: invited the friend to come in two weeks

Soldier in the Air Force fearful of skydiving

• Identify unacceptable behavior: fear of jumping out of airplanes
• Action: joined a skydiving club (not required by the military)
• Consequence: he paid good money to join; he jumped on his own dime
• Time: a club requirement was two dives a week for three month

Singer with stage fright

• Identify unacceptable behavior: stage fright
• Action: scheduled herself to sing the national anthem for 1,000 people
• Consequence: invited family, friends and music agent to attend
• Time: she had three weeks to prepare

Woman afraid to host a social gathering

• Identify unacceptable behavior: fear of failure
• Action: invited 40 guests to her home
• Consequence: she mailed the invitations and told her friends
• Time: she invited guests to a Christmas party and dated the invitations

Overweight man

• Identify unacceptable behavior: being overweight
• Action: created an exercise and diet routine that included others
• Consequence: he gave his best friend $500. If he lost the weight he’d get his money back, and if he      didn’t, his friend could keep it.
• Time: he committed to lose 60 pounds in 10 months

Melinda, age 23, from New York, explained her positive crisis ’secret’ to significant weight loss: “Put yourself in a situation that forces you to change your habits, where you have to learn to work your life differently.”

Jacob, age 24, from North Carolina, shared how he intentionally created a positive crisis in his life:
When I was younger I was extremely shy. I didn’t interact much with anyone. I didn’t take kindly to new people or new situations. Most of the time my parents would have to speak for me – I couldn’t even order for myself at restaurants. I created a way to ease and release my shy tendencies. I joined a choir and learned to play the guitar so I would have to perform in front of many people. I learned that I could share so much of myself and my talents to help and bless others. My advice is to know that you are special and what you have is worth sharing, so find an outlet, something that you enjoy, and share it.

Perhaps you could take a moment now while you contemplate creating a positive crisis in your life. Do you have a behavior you’d like to change? What personal mannerism or conduct is no longer acceptable to you? After you’ve chosen one: develop an action plan; decide on a consequence; determine a time frame. Try it – you’ll be pleased to discover that sometimes relief is just a crisis away!

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

John F. Kennedy

~ Dr. Paula

 My Biggest Hurdle                                                      Preparation – Critical for Success 

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