Choosing your best way forward, no matter which way the wind is blowing

After we have looked for the ten types of opportunity that might exist in any situation, our next task is to choose between the options we have found. 

Peter Drucker had a very clear view about the best way to do this. He was a hugely influential management consultant and author whose thinking shaped the modern corporation and he said:

“Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”

In other words, it is better to choose a difficult path towards the outcomes we really want than an easy path towards the wrong results. It is better to move slowly in the right direction than quickly in the wrong one. It is better to do the right things imperfectly than to do the wrong things well.

This probably seems obvious now. But how many times do we go along with what’s easy rather than standing up for what’s right? How many times do we take the easy route and allow things to slip instead of doing the difficult work of addressing the situation?

Sailing brings a useful metaphor.

If the wind is blowing in the direction you want to travel then your decision is easy: you sail downwind. But when the wind is blowing against you then you have a choice. Either you give up your goal and sail to where the wind is blowing today. Or you tack and jibe across the wind to get to where you want to go. This choice seems harder: progress is slower and you seem to be travelling in the wrong direction. But in fact, you are still moving towards your chosen destination.

Success in a time of change is partly about finding more opportunities. And it’s also about choosing which option is the best way forward for now, even when that seems to be different from where you ultimately want to get to. Because it is better to move slowly in the right direction than quickly in the wrong one.

Being able to do this is another step towards becoming antifragile.

In your work, and your life, are you deliberately moving towards the destination that matters most to you, no matter which way the wind happens to be blowing today?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also have to do the practice.)

Photo By Dale Simonson via

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