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, even if we don’t manage to find a transformative solution.
These five benefits are:
- More Inspiration
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.
- Deeper Understanding
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. This will be useful no matter which direction we move forward in.
- Greater 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 stronger, more impactful, 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.
- More 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 explicitly 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 they come under stress, Taleb calls ‘antifragile’.
Deliberately choosing to look for the opportunities that exist in any situation is the first step to our becoming antifragile.
This is what The Churning, Inner Leadership is ultimately all about: creating leaders who are able to find the opportunities in a situation, and who as a result are more inspiring, with a deeper understanding, who remain in control and look for ways forward that will endure, and who ultimately will make themselves and their organisations able to use the stress of any situation to become stronger.
All this begins when we decide to look for the opportunities in our situation, even one that looks like a crisis.
Adapted from Inner Leadership.