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Monday Mornings with Madison



There is an age-old saying in the theater that "the second act is the best,” and this is because crisis always reveals the essence of a character. In most scripts, Act I introduces the characters, the protagonist, and the dramatic situation, while Act III reveals the story’s climax and resolution. But it is in Act II when the main character encounters dreadful obstacles and moves into crisis. This is usually the darkest part of the story, where the protagonist reaches his or her lowest point. And this is where the playwright can truly capture the audience — we all can identify with a hero facing terrible odds.

Playwrights know that every great story needs a great crisis, but few of us willingly sign up for crises. Sure, they build character, but who really wants that much character? We face even our minor challenges with anxiety and some of the obstacles that come our way seem overwhelming. They stretch us to the breaking point. They call into question our expectations and assumptions. They force us to reach deep within ourselves to find the strength to go on, to persevere and come up with new solutions.

In the business world, the loss of a job, an investment or a business is the crisis we fear most. And, in today’s economy, this is certainly a familiar scenario.  Everyone fears failure. But breakthroughs depend on taking risks and risk-taking, by definition, includes the possibility of failure. The best companies and the most successful entrepreneurs encourage risk, embrace their mistakes and learn from them. As Intuit founder Scott Cook said, "It's only a failure if we fail to get the learning.”

Here are a few things to learn about risk-taking:

Keep focused Henry Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”  Challenges are inevitable but when you stay focused on your goal, you free yourself from negativity and fear.

Get moving Take the first step now — and you know what it is. Make that phone call or send that e-mail. Just get into action and keep moving.

Stay informed Learn everything you can about the components of your task or goal. The more you know about a subject, the better you are at solving its riddles.

Get inspired  Read some of the great stories about ordinary people who succeeded despite the challenges along the way. You can do the same!

Keep growing  The real satisfaction of reaching your goal is growing and becoming a stronger, smarter, more resilient person. Each challenge you meet makes you better equipped to handle the next.

“Never waste a good crisis.”  Hilary Clinton

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