Danger and opportunity. Rolled into a cake.
Change no longer represents the occasional need to react to far-reaching trends or industry influences. It’s more like the Chinese character for crisis, which represents both danger and opportunity. - Michael Dell
I came across this quote during college and it has stuck with me ever since. (By the way, the Chinese character for crisis is 危機.) It's a piece of wisdom that I frequently see in other variations. For example, transforming an obstacle into an advantage. For the longest time, I never really had a great example of this wisdom. It sounded like wise words, but not very practical.
Then I worked at a bakery. And the best example of this dropped into my life.
At a bakery in Japan, I was tasked with transferring rolled cakes from a tray to the table so they could be wrapped and packaged. They were very delicate cakes. Unfortunately, I was careless and I accidentally poked a hole in one of the cakes with my thumb. Uh oh. A crisis! I decided to come clean and reported it to the chef.
So what do we do now with this imperfect rolled cake? Do we still put it up for sale? Maybe drop the price? I pondered with regret of my mistake.
The chef didn't scold me.
Instead, he moves. He takes out a bowl of whip cream, and starts frosting the entire rolled cake. Covering up the imperfection I caused. Resulting in a snow-like heavenly rolled cake.
He placed the roll in the refrigerated showcase with a sign: Special of the Day. The price? Five dollars more than the regular rolled cake!
Later in the day. That cake, a result of my mishandling, was sold.
Finding an opportunity in a crisis. That's my real life example. What's yours?