One thing I noticed during a recent hospital visit to see a friend was the presence of hand sanitizer in almost every room. After pandemic scares, such as SARS and H1N1, hand sanitizer has become a common commodity in many public places and homes. These tragedies have heightened our awareness and triggered change so we can prevent history from repeating itself.


Our society’s response to these and other crises contain interesting leadership lessons. Even if we never have to deal with such traumatic events, we will often face obstacles and even failure in our pursuit of God’s vision for our lives. Here are some questions to ask when crisis comes:

  • Can it be avoided? The automobile industry has issued global product recalls for defective vehicle parts such as airbags and suspensions. This costly, but necessary adjustment has avoided countless accidents and minimized damage to reputations. As leaders, we have the responsibility to make sure we don’t face the same crisis twice.

  • What can we learn? Like the widespread use of hand sanitizer, every new global health scare triggers improvement in the quality of our prevention systems. As leaders, we can help our teams learn how to prevent or minimize the effects of a similar issue the next time it happens.

  • What new tool can we develop? The recent Ebola epidemic in Africa resulted in the development of a viable vaccine. When having to overcome obstacles, good leaders learn to develop systems and adopt new technologies to prevent future problems.

  • What application can we make to other areas? The proliferation of hand sanitizer not only affected respiratory viruses coming from Asia (such as SARS and H1N1), but helped us prevent the common cold and other infections. Leadership lessons learned from our failures can be extrapolated to different areas of our lives.


Obstacles are a reality of life. Good leaders face adversity head on and use it to their benefit by learning from the experience, developing new practices, and applying those practices to the situation at hand and other areas of life to prevent a repeat occurrence. Obstacles may be unavoidable, but learning from our trials and mistakes can help us tackle our next obstacle with confidence and prevent history from repeating itself.


What crisis or obstacle are you facing? What lessons can you take away from this challenge?

by Norival Trindade