opportunity

You may have heard that there’s a single Chinese character that means both “crisis” and “opportunity.” You probably heard this from a motivational speaker, your office manager, or your middle-school guidance counselor. It’s a nice story, but it isn’t true.

I mean, none of it is true. The part about the Chinese word for “crisis” isn’t true, and the other part — the part where there’s an opportunity hiding inside every crisis — is also really super not true.

There’s nothing wrong with looking for ways to make a bad situation less bad, but sometimes what you’re dealing with is very clearly a crisis that has no redeeming qualities.

And even if the thing about the Chinese word were true (it isn’t), it wouldn’t mean the two ideas are related in any way. In English, we have a word that means both “shoreline” and “place to put money” and nobody thinks there’s a profound connection between those things.