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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 29, 2009
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Turning a Crisis Into a Challenge
April 29, 2009   
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Brian Tracy, one of the world’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness, talks to Marzena Robinson.

On June 3 you are holding a conference in Warsaw entitled “Crunch Time—Successful Strategies for Managing Crisis Situations.” Who is it mainly aimed at?
I typically address managers and people who do or wish to run businesses. This time, however, I will speak about ways to solve different types of crises. It turns out that every family, and every business, runs into some kind of a threatening crisis every two to three months. It is those who want to learn strategies to deal with such crises and use them to the advantage of their business and themselves that will be the audience at the conference.

The conference program promises that attendees will learn methods for overcoming setbacks in their lives and jobs. Can you reveal some details?
Crises periodically happen to everyone and they are not always related to some global economic collapse. When a crisis hits you, you may often feel overwhelmed and virtually unable to do anything about it. However, knowing that there are various strategies available that can help you deal with any crisis, or even use it to your own benefit, allows you to take a conscious approach to difficult challenges and deal with them effectively. They say that when the going gets tough, the tough ones get going further. The point is that you too can be a tough one. It is precisely in crisis situations that you reveal the true you to yourself and to others. How effectively you will deal with a crisis situation depends on how you perceive it, what you do about it, and how you will handle it. And it does not matter if the crisis is related to running a large corporation, a division or a personal situation. There is a way out of every situation and it is up to you to identify and use it.

You also promise that during the conference you will unveil a new approach to building values at a time of crisis. Can we expect something revolutionary?
When times get rough, we may feel tempted to take short cuts—since the situation is exceptional, maybe we can bend or even break the rules. After all, you had to save yourself, didn’t you? But you have to remember that while breaking the rules can bring short-term benefit, if you think of business with a long-term view, you must be asking yourself how to act not to yield to that kind of desperation. Life is hardly black and white. Every person who is engaged in selling or runs a business or has a job will benefit from knowing ways and techniques that will enable them to make decisions that represent high standards and at the same time do not put the business at risk in the long term. Those techniques and the modern way of thinking will be the topic of my Warsaw conference on June 3.

You said once that time management and self-discipline are essential to be successful. What exactly do you mean by success?
Every person has their own definition of success and the word itself has different meanings to different people. However, the paths to understanding what success means to me are always similar. Think what you would like to accomplish, who you would like to be and what would you want to do, if you were absolutely sure that you can succeed. What would you do, if you won 10 million dollars, what would you do with the money and how would you spend your time—these are your definition of success.

In difficult times people tend to turn to leaders. What does it mean to be a leader at the present time?
Being a leader every moment is more about who you are than what position you hold or what title you have on your business card. [Greek Stoic philosopher] Epictetus says, “It is not that a situation creates a man; rather, it just unveils him to himself.” That is why in tough times people look to their leaders. They expect their leaders to show self-control, a clear vision, and an action plan despite the challenges. True leaders are those who know how to design a strategy in hard times and who are able to lead themselves, their company and people through those times.

Do you believe everyone can learn how to take control their emotions and handle difficulties in their lives?
Our emotions are a way in which we respond to the reality around us. How we perceive it will determine our response to it. If you can be rational and calm about what happens to you and if you treat every hard situation as a challenge, then you will maintain a calm mind and the ability to keep emotions under control at all times.

Everyone can learn to control their emotions through conscious focus on how we perceive the world around us and through developing a habit of positive vision. Let me give you an example: if you get a difficult task to do, one that seems outside of your capabilities or those of your team, you may feel fear of that task, doubt whether you can actually complete it, and such an approach is sure to end in stress and negative emotions. Then it will be hard for you to complete that task and gather your team around it. But you can choose to look at that situation as a new challenge, as an opportunity to learn a new skill and elevate yourself and your team to a new level. With such an approach, you will awaken enthusiasm for work and you will spread your optimism around. It is up to us whether we encounter problems that stop us or challenges that need to be addressed so that we can move forward. Every one of us can, if we truly want it, develop the skill to have such an effective approach to reality. This is what I will talk about in Warsaw on June 3.
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