March 18

The Upside of Crisis: Creativity and Personal Growth in the Midst of the Corona Virus

Photographer: TK Hammonds | Source: Unsplash

Every hero’s journey begins with a crisis or call to adventure. That crisis might be internal or external. But most people are so comfortable that change never happens in their lives. 

Often heroes are unaware there is anything wrong with their Ordinary World and don’t see any need for change. They may be in a state of denial. They’ve been just barely getting by, using an arsenal of crutches, addictions and definitions and defense mechanisms. The job of the Herald is to Kick into action this support, announcing the world of the hero is unstable and must be put back into healthy balance by action., by taking risks, by undertaking the adventure – Christopher Vogel, The Writer’s Journey

Recent events have led to a crisis in the lives of millions of people around the world.  At this moment, the coronavirus is the Herald and you are the hero. But only if you choose to be.

Fear Porn

Yesterday a member of our online community described the media we’re consuming every day as “fear porn.”  First, let me be clear. This is very serious and you should treat it as such.

Do not ignore what public health officials are saying.

Even if you are fine or just recovered from being sick, stay home. It’s not only selfish but dangerous to go out as if it’s no big deal. And if you’re not convinced, listen to this interview with an Italian Doctor from the NYTimes Daily Podcast.

However, your environment has a profound impact on your life.  The media you consume is part of it.  As Zig Ziglar said, your input determines your outlook and your outlook determines your output. If if you keep hitting refresh on corona Virus updates or scrolling through social media, you’re going to fuel your own panic. And panic only makes a bad thing worse.

The Upside of Crisis

Crisis is painful, uncomfortable and disrupts our lives. There’s nothing pleasant about losing a loved one, getting fired, or running into financial troubles.  “Crisis shatters the structures of our lives says,” says Justine Musk.

But there’s also a potential upside to every crisis as  Joseph Logan reveals in his TEDx talk. 

You can’t control the Corona Virus or how the media covers it. What you can control is how you respond to it. You can see nothing but downsides or become deliberate about what you let into your world and how you spend your time.  You can use this time to make a change, start something you’ve wanted to start or make plans for the end of the world.

Obstacles vs Opportunities

You can see this moment as an opportunity or an obstacle, a setback or a moment in which you transform adversity into an advantage.  In his book, The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday lists numerous companies that people started in the midst of a recession.

Recessions create destruction, mayhem, and loss. But they also lead to opportunity, innovation, and breakthroughs.

It’s about perspective. My sister said “our grandparent’s fought wars. We’re being asked to sit on our couches, watch Netflix, and order things on Amazon. Get over it.”


If you are friends with creators of any kind: authors, painters, musicians, you’ll hear them reference the cave.  The cave is a metaphor for a creative space, in which they spend the bulk of their time while writing a book, recording an album, or working on some creative project.  For professional creators, social distancing is a part of their daily routine.

The bizarre upside of social distancing is that it creates the necessary conditions for deep work. It gives us space and time we need to reclaim creativity for its own sake. Chances are you have

  • Courses you want to take
  • Books you want to read
  • Projects you want to start

You can Create or Consume

You can use this moment to consume content that stokes fear or create content that fuels hope.  Which do you think is going to serve you most on the other side of such a crisis?

Learn Something

The day before yesterday my cousin Inder told me a story about someone who was quarantined for 40 days.  Rather than sit around reading news he taught himself how to cook and learned a new language. Yesterday my cousin sent me the following text message:

Antara Bhardwaj is an  Indian Classical dance teacher in the Bay Area.  The subtle nuances and complexities of teaching it aren’t easy to communicate through video. 

Yet, she’s using it as an opportunity to build a library of videos for her students, give them more personalized attention. I even encouraged her to consider how she might transcend the difficulties of communicating the subtle nuances and invent new methods of teaching.

Other people in our Unmistakable Listener’s Tribe echoed similar experiences:

Each day I hike I take a pic of a cactus and then later that day I’m teaching myself how to sketch it. – Velvet Siprian

Been writing every day so far whether in the form of book summaries or continuing on my passion project – Nate Fourman

Actually went through the same reflections and I have been suggesting a lot of my friends who have been struggling with confinement to find things they would love to learn as most of them would never usually have the time or take the time to do so. Some of them have joined online classes, others are giving Skype ones. I’m personally planning to learn music producing. – Elodie Sobczak

This could be one of the most prolific periods of your creative life if you choose to use it that way. 


In her book How to Stress Less and Accomplish More, Ziva Meditation Founder, Emily Fletcher asks readers to consider the following:

The habitual reaction when faced with hard times, is, “Why is this happening to me?” What I would encourage you to think instead is “Why is this happening for me?”


I recently finished her Ziva Meditation course, and have been meditating for 30 mins a day because of it. It’s forced me to slow down, which is not something that comes easily. Rather than flying through books at a frenetic pace I’m taking my time, doing the exercises in them.  She’s also made the course available for 50 percent off. 


After reading Mark Wolynn’s book, It Didn’t Start with You, I went back a second time, read it again and did all the exercises.  What came out of it was profound.  It revealed the source of some of my deepest fears.


If you grew up in the ’80s or attended college in the ’90s, you often dreamt about the day when you could see the other person’s face on a phone call. Yet, as technology evolved, the way we used it became more impersonal.

We text more than we call, send instant messages through Facebook, and rarely make it a point to see each other’s faces.

I wasn’t able to see my cousin when he got back to Boulder from India. My sister insisted we didn’t meet because I was sick and he had just come back from another country.

 As all hell broke loose, we realized it might be a while before we saw each other. The other day, we hopped on Whatsapp, I turned on my camera and he said: “man, it’s nice to see your face.”

Since he’s a professor, my dad recently discovered Zoom. He called me and said “there’s a thing called Zoom. It’s really nice.” I laughed because I’ve been a Zoom customer for a while. But my family members have all started organizing Zoom calls. I couldn’t help but wonder if its’ something we should have been doing all along.

My roommate Matthew Cooke  and I recently moved to Boulder. We are scheduled to move out of our Airbnb and into our new apartment in two weeks.  

At the moment we’re in very close quarters. As annoying as it has been to be cooped up inside, it’s brought us much closer together.  We’ve had some of our most meaningful conversations about life to date.  And our NBA 2k20 skills are going through the roof. 

It’s ironic that social distancing is creating deeper bonds between friends and family members.


You have a chance to reinvent the default, to make it better. Or we can maintain the status quo. Which way will you contribute? Rather than doing what we’ve always done in real-life (but online, and not as well), what if we did something better instead? – Seth Godin

There are a lot of people who need help right now. Just because you can’t go out, it doesn’t mean you can’t contribute in some way.

1. The Elderly

The elderly are our most vulnerable population. Trevor Noah encouraged people to ask them if they need help. Some might not be sick, but might be living alone. Watch the video below. It might make you cry.  Some of the elderly might just need someone to have a conversation with.

Play Video

Students and Teachers

Recently, we opened a subscription community called Unmistakable Prime. When we started mapping it out, I wanted to fund a creative project on DonorsChoose for every person who subscribed. But with schools closed that wasn’t an option.  Instead, we offered it to educators for free. If you’re a professor or teacher just email us at

Parents Who Are Homeschooling

While some schools are offering online classes, others have just provided parents with guidelines and topics to cover. It was something I didn’t realize until I spoke to a few of our community members who are dealing with this.

There’s no doubt this is a moment in history that has had a devastating impact on millions of people around the world. 

But for every one of those people, there are far more who are dealing with inconvenience more than a crisis.

If my biggest problem is that the books I ordered on Amazon aren’t going to be here in 2 days or I can’t go on a Bumble date, my then I’m not really suffering. 

It’s up to the latter group to lead a shift from individualism to collectivism.

Before you Go

If you’re interested in using this time to become more prolific, productive, and creative, you might find Unmistakable Creative Prime to be a Valuable Resource. It’s costs less than the price you spend monthly on coffee, includes all our courses, monthly coaching calls, and access to a diverse community of creators, entrepreneurs, and wonderful people.


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