Currently, the world is in a state of economic stress, limited supplies of PPE for the healthcare industry and overall uncertainty due to a new virus that has affected our daily routines.  In addition to that, Entire communities, industries, schools and small businesses have been mandated to close, or reduce their interaction with others, to “flatten the curve” of the infectious Coronavirus, as well as, implementing curfews to limit rage induced riots. These changes have sparked creative and compassionate ways to help others, adapt business models to pay employees and stay afloat, and to use technology as a way to be more intentional with our relationships in a time where we are asked to be physically distant.

As we know, this is not the first crisis in the world, and it won’t be the last. Although for many of us, this is the first crisis of this magnitude we have had to make difficult decisions through.

Thoughts for this blog came to mind as I was listening to a John Maxwell Facebook Live series. I use acronyms a lot during my speaking presentations, coaching sessions, and training manuals because I feel they are easy to remember and are relatable to most people. The word CRISIS typically brings on a negative response because it indicates there is a problem; a sense of chaos and fear of the unknown. As I was brainstorming what crisis means and how we can learn from it, I landed on the words Community, Reflection, Identity, Sacrifice, Involvement and Solutions.

I challenge you to consider each letter, and what it stands for in our own lives, as we are going through this time together. Every time you hear the word CRISIS, think of the outcome from these six words and what they represent as a whole, instead of the singular word Crisis that exudes fear and uncertainty.

The acronym is CRISIS:

Community-When crisis hits, communities come together to support one another and unlikely bonds are formed in ways that can last a lifetime. A few examples are the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, 911 terrorist act, the recent killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the overall effect of the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing need for foster families to care for children in the foster care system and the unnecessary death of Goerge Floyd.  We see evidence of people stepping out to voice their support and advocate for those who are suffering. There are strangers who provide financial help to others in need and use their gifts and talents to show love and kindness. We are created to be in community with others and not to go through life alone. Sometimes we are caught up in our own bubble and it takes a crisis to give us a wake-up call to reach out.

Reflection- Whether we are in a time of crisis or not, stepping back and reflecting on any situation helps us to grow our emotional intelligence, our empathy toward others and our ability to learn from and adapt to the situation. Reflection takes honesty with yourself when reviewing how you respond to a situation and vulnerability to identify where you need help and ask for it.

At the end of each day I journal 3 reflections questions:

Who did you help today? How did you help them?

Did you respond in an unloving way/in anger or rude today? If yes, then talk to the person and ask for forgiveness.

Is there anything you could’ve done differently today that would have improved the situation.             

You can certainly use these questions or think of your own. Once you start applying daily intentional reflection into your routine, I believe you will feel a sense of accomplishment and peace.

Identity-Crisis opens our eyes to what we find our identity in. If your identity is rooted in your amazing image, health and fitness level and you end up getting sick, your identity is shattered. What if your identity is in how successful your children are and then one of your kids ends up in prison? Is your identity in material things and then coronavirus hits, you lose your job and no longer can afford the name brand items? We live in a society of self-help strategies, consumerism, and DIY projects. It’s an amazing feeling when you have worked hard, accomplished a task and feel proud of what you have accomplished. What happens when pride takes over and you run someone over for the sake of being the ”best” or “winning”? Relationships get broken and your identity gets blurred without even noticing. The sense of filling a void takes over with whatever makes you temporarily happy or fulfilled. I know, because I have been there. What do you find your identity in?

Sacrifice- It’s interesting to me the response I’ve heard from others when it comes to the word sacrifice. Generally, I’ve heard people respond to sacrifice as if it is a bad thing. It’s as if you have to give something up that benefits you for the sake of someone else. Yes, sacrifice is giving something up for someone else. However, to me sacrifice is a beautiful picture of love. Think about the sacrifices the healthcare workers are making to care for the coronavirus patients. They are sacrificing their own physical, emotional and mental health. Additionally, they are sacrificing time away from their own families to be with our sick loved ones’. Anyone who is in the armed forces, a member of the police force or a first responder sacrifices everyday for the sake of another. I challenge you to meditate on the beautiful picture of love and selflessness that sacrifice shows. To apply and take it a step further, pick one intentional thing that you will sacrifice for another out of love, not to boast about it and not to expect anything in return. Write down the experience so you can reflect on it later.

Involvement-During time of crisis, the level of involvement increases. More people look for ways to volunteer and take initiative to lend a hand. Crisis also gives passion and courage to those who may not normally speak up. When a crisis hits you personally, emotions and a desire for action arise in all personality types. Can you think of an example of someone you know who is typically quiet on social media and then all of a sudden is posting about breast cancer awareness, mental health, or grief support? I know I have. Being involved and getting others involved helps us to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment, especially in a time of crisis.

Solutions- The mere definition of crisis indicates a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. In order to have a solution, a problem must be present. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware we have a problem because we have blind spots. When crisis hits, blind spots are exposed. Prior to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s dental professionals were not required to wear gloves. Once federal agencies started to take a look at the bloodborne pathogens and the potential risk of exposure to healthcare workers, universal precautions were created as a response.  With the high level of access to information, we can feel overwhelmed by “solutions”.  Watch TV for about 20 minutes and the advertisements will give you answers to all kinds of problems you didn’t even know you had! Take this pill, use this cream, eat this food, stay at this hotel, fly this airline, drink this coffee…and the list goes on and on. We are bombarded with decisions all day long. When we can sift through the noise and focus on what truly matters, we open our mind to acknowledging a problem and creating a solutions-focused mindset.

One exercise I have my clients do when creating their vision is to take a piece of paper and braindump problems that exist and the solution their office provides. For example, they may say a problem is broken teeth and the solution is an aesthetically appealing crown that restores function and allows the patient to smile with confidence. A broken tooth may not be a national crisis, however, to that patient, it is an acute crisis and they need your help.

Don’t minimize the positive impact dental professionals have with life-altering solutions for patients. Everyone has a story and a unique worldview perspective based on their life experiences. Dental teams are notorious for building relationships with each other and their patients to feel like a family. During this time of change and crisis, keep in mind that we need each other now more than ever.

I hope you find this helpful and applicable to your daily life. As change agents in the dental industry we will build a community, reflect for growth, discover our true identities, sacrifice for love, get involved, and provide thought-out solutions to those in need.

Feel free to reach out anytime!