November 6, 2015

My Brand is “Situation”

This past weekend, I went to see the new Sandra Bullock film, “Our Brand is Crisis” because, well, I had to know: it’s (very loosely) what I do.
Why very loosely?
Well, Sandra Bullock plays a political operative who works with unlikely candidates—politics are (currently) not my thing.
The character played by Sandra Bullock is far more devious than I (currently) am.
Sandra Bullock is an excellent actress. I am not. Nor will I ever be. (FYI: the best scenes, to me, were those between her and Billy Bob Thornton, but have a look and tell me what you think.)
At any rate…
One additional, critical, reason, however, is that the word “crisis” gives me a rash.
Now I understand that in the context of this film, it works—and it works well. That said, my fear is that people are going to get all fired up by Hollywood and start finding the use of the word “crisis” sexier than it already is.
Please don’t.
Why? Well, the easiest way to make my point is: from all I’ve seen on TV – and, I assume—in real life, when something occurs in our country, does our President go to the Crisis Room?
He does not.
Why? Well, the Persian poet Hafiz says, “The words you speak become the house you live in.” I believe this. The minute you label something a crisis, all anyone involved hears is CRISIS CRISIS CRISIS. The adrenaline picks up and people stop thinking big picture. Depending on the personalities involved, some people will begin pointing fingers, others will throw themselves into the breach: clear thinking and possibilities for partnership get lost.
My recommendation, then, is for all of us to use the word ‘situation’. A situation is, by definition, containable, and something that can change in response to a shift in the circumstances of the present moment: it’s a word where the possibility of transformation to something better exists.

The other bonus is that you continue to sound in command of the circumstances. Authoritative, calm, focused—everything you want to sound during a ‘crisis’.

Frances Cole Jones

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