We’re not going to discover penicillin or invent blue jeans with every tricky situation we face. But having an attitude of approaching problems as if they contained opportunities will bring us five side benefits, whether we find a transformative solution or not.
These five benefits are:
Seeking to do more than simply ‘fix the problem’ creates inspiration and “A leader,” Napoleon said, “is a dealer in hope.” This positive attitude is exciting to be around. It is good for morale and leads to improved productivity and results in all areas.
Searching for the opportunities in a situation forces us to look past surface symptoms, then let go of our assumptions and mis-blinks. When we look for the opportunities we force ourselves to gain a deeper understanding of the situation, which will be useful no matter what direction we move forward in.
- Durability and Impact
When John Cleese was writing sketches with the Monty Python team, his colleagues would often stop when they got to the first punchline. Cleese would keep working until he found the second, third, or even fifth level of comedy. This was harder work and took longer, but the results he created were deeper, more effective, and longer lasting.
If you want to generate outcomes that are more remarkable, last longer, or work at a deeper level than your competitors, learn to look for the opportunities that lie beyond the first solution or quick fix.
- Choice and Control
By looking for the opportunities in a situation you retain more control over your own destiny. Any opportunities you find give you new possibilities to choose from. Then, instead of simply reacting, you can respond in a deliberate, focused way. By not just reacting but deliberately choosing the best available option you put yourself back in control.
Looking for the opportunities in any situation is a step towards making us and our organisations what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls ‘antifragile’.
Objects, people, or organisations that break under stress we call ‘fragile’. Objects, people, and organisations that survive under stress we call ‘robust’, ‘resilient’, or ‘strong’. And objects, people, and organisations that actually become stronger and more capable when placed under stress, Taleb calls ‘antifragile’.
Deliberately choosing to look for the opportunities that exist in any situation is the first step to becoming antifragile.
This is what The Churning is ultimately all about: creating leaders who are more inspiring, with a deeper understanding, who remain in control and look for ways forward that will endure, and who ultimately make themselves and their organisations able to use the stress of any situation to become stronger.
It begins when we decide to look for the opportunities in every situation, even a crisis.
Adapted from Inner Leadership.