Using a Crisis to Build Power

Using a Crisis to Build Power

This post was written days before the election. Devastation, like crisis, breaks us open. We can use that openness to acknowledge all the help we have and work it!  Note we are making ourselves more available than usual at this time with our devastation special.

chinese_word_for_crisis

This is the famous “Chinese word for crisis,” which does not mean “danger + opportunity.” Image by and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Tomchen1989. The left character is wēi, the right is the unsimplified form of jī . I cropped this image to showcase the traditional form because I loved its intensity. Wēijī does mean “crisis.” It apparently means “danger + turning point,” as in English.

This post is for a group of beloved soul-colleagues experiencing a fundraising crisis and another looking at a deeply held dream through the far end of a tunnel, wondering how to walk through that tunnel and achieve that dream by raising the large funds needed. The individual’s not in crisis–except etymologically, as the word has historically meant “turning point.” You never see yourself the same after you have raised a large amount of money for your dream!

“Crisis” originally meant “decision,” and came to mean the point in an illness when an important change takes place (thank you, Google)  and there are only two outcomes: recovery, or death. It is difficult not to be motivated by death–not to focus, in other words, on fear–in a crisis. It is our challenge to use a crisis to build power.

The first thing to do is change how we see “recovery.” Recovery never looks backward; recovery does not care where you came from. Recovery is all about where you’re going. When your world breaks apart, the new you emerges: you had better pay attention.

Every crisis contains within itself the seeds of its healing.

Healing means wholeness.

Breaking apart means trusting a much larger wholeness–or death.

I do believe it is that simple. And you know if you read me very often that “simple” is code for very, very hard. Utterly demanding. A crisis demands everything we have, all hands on deck, and the invisible Hand helping. It doesn’t really matter if you believe in the invisible Hand, it just helps if you stay open to Its help.

Rumi compares our crying out for help in crisis to a baby crying for its mother’s milk. The help we receive is as inevitable as the infant’s mother’s physiological response of milk coming into breasts called “letdown.” A secular word for it is “crowdfunding.” 🙂

  • Crowdfunding means we trust in the “crowd” in a new way.
  • Crowdfunding does not mean we expect the crowd to do our work for us.
  • We earn the crowd’s trust by running to meet the crowd, fully prepared to do everything it takes.

Yes, there is paradox here: if we go running toward help, help comes running toward us. But only if we go running.

Help comes when we are burning for it.

When we have put nothing in between it and us. Because that was how we got into crisis: we put sooooo much in between ourselves and what was needed:

  • we got busy
  • we forgot
  • we were distracted
  • we were addicted
  • we were seduced
  • we were deluded

into believing we could get what we wanted by will, profit, secrecy, manipulation, abuse of power–or simply by ourselves. We cornered ourselves and then! our need grew too great. And we ended up in crisis.

So how do we access healing in a crisis?

  1. Ask for help.
  2. Ask repeatedly for help.
  3. Ask organizedly, structuredly for help: if people wanted to help you, could they? Make it easy, inviting, direct, humble. Analyze your pathways of outreach, support, recruitment, and marketing: are they easy to use? direct? clear? You can ask for our help with this.
  4. Clear away any and all obstacles within to help. Notice how hard it is to ask for help: where is it hard? what is hard, specifically? those are the places for healing
  5. Remember what you have done well. How have you built friendships? Use them. They will use your friendship in future: be there. Make a commitment to be there for your friends so you recover.
  6. Make sure every single person in your inner circle has given to support your recovery. Everyone. It doesn’t matter how much, it matters that it is a “significant amount” for each. That’s the language I use and teach.
  7. See how you are made bigger by your crisis: what new level is it calling you to? Do not fundraise for an emergency; fundraise for your new level. That bears repeating:

Do not fundraise for an emergency. Fundraise for your new level. Ask for help becoming the new you.


You don’t have to wait for a crisis to become the new you. You can invent one! I’m teasing, but you can dream a great big dream, like my individual soul-colleague, and go after it using the same principles in this post. For more on what we offer you as an individual, click here.

1 Comment
  • Pingback:Finding the Wealth in the Wound – RAISING CLARITY
    Posted at 11:11h, 23 November Reply

    […] 56, and after fundraising and organizing over half my life, I believe that the correct use of a crisis is to build power. I will start from this belief to build a program for one nonprofit that achieves this, at […]

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