There are few things which define a person more than how they react during a crisis. How would Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill be remembered if they had reigned during a quiet era of peace? On a less historical level, terrible events such as Hurricane Harvey or the Las Vegas shooting inevitably create heroes who help others and reveal their true character.

Most crises in our lives are much less dramatic, but no less revealing. And when everyone is freaking out and panicking in response to some bad news, you can stay calm, think about what to do, and make the most of it. A successful person can take a bad situation, bounce back, and emerge stronger than ever by following these steps.

  1. The Importance of Patience

If it takes one day to get all the facts about a crisis and resolve it, it probably was not much of a crisis. But in a world where we expect everything instantly, far too many people demand instant answers and results.

Look for example at the Las Vegas shooting, where the New York Daily News reported that the CIA warned citizens against “jumping to conclusions” in regard to the shooter’s motives. Finding a motive and uncovering further details about the shooting will take time. A slow, accurate response is far more informative than a hurried report which would just incite panic.

So when a crisis hits, do not jump for what appears to be the easiest and fastest way out. Understand that the crisis may be severe, but wait things out, stay calm, and look for an opportunity which should arise.

  1. Get Involved

Most people want to join something which is going well and stay away from something going poorly. While that may be sensible, a true leader and opportunity seeker does the opposite. He seeks out challenges while having the good sense not to get involved in that which is going well.

The reasoning is quite simple. If a project is going well, there is no reason to get involved. We often see this in healthcare where cellular amplifiers in healthcare have made communication between health professionals easier. There are countless business stories of projects humming along, only for some executive to slap his great idea over it and ruin the whole thing. By contrast, a project which is not going well needs leadership, whether it is a steady hand who can calm everyone down or someone who can prioritize what needs to be done.

If you get involved in a tough project early on and help bring it to respectability, the rewards will be much greater compared to merely going along with the crowd.

  1. Learn to Adapt

A classic, if hilarious example I like to use as an example of poor crisis management is the infamous Leeroy Jenkins video. The leaders of the group have formulated their plan to fight the boss, only for Leeroy to charge in before everyone. And what is the first thing the leaders say after that charge?

“Stick to the plan.” So the group sticks to the plan, and all of them die as opposed to just Leeroy.

A crisis is an ever changing thing, and a solution or opportunity which may have existed one day may not be available the next. If you have formulated a plan, be prepared to adjust and make changes as circumstances change. Take in new information, listen, and consult with experts who can help you adapt.

  1. Empower and Trust Others

In a crisis, our natural inclination is to only trust people in our “in group,” especially if someone in the “out group” caused the crisis. But in fact, a crisis can be a good opportunity to forge closer relationships with other individuals as you have the mutual experience of fixing a major problem. And countless analysts such as David Wither with Entrepreneur point out that delegation is one of the most important traits a leader can have.

Instead of closing off discussion to your “in group,” take care to get others involved who may normally stay on the sidelines. By delegating and listening to new voices, you can gain new perspectives on the crisis and potentially make a friend.

  1. Don’t Let the Crisis Define You

Eventually, a crisis will end one way or another and you have to move on to the rest of your life. But some people fail to do so, whether out of depression and victimhood or letting their pride in succeeding in a crisis turn into hubris. Always try to stay in a positive and humble frame of mind where you think of yourself as a good success rather than a failure.

You may not see immediate success during the crisis, or even a little while afterwards. But if you keep a positive attitude, work hard, learn to adapt, and help others as a good person and leader, then people will remember what you accomplished. That will lead to future opportunity, where you can use the crisis as a stepping stone on the road to success.

Author's Bio: 

Jeremiah Owyang is an internet entrepreneur and leader in the sharing economy.