Once we have found the ten types of opportunity that exist in any situation, our next task is to choose the way forward that is best for us.
Peter Drucker had very a clear view about the best way to do this. He was an author and consultant whose thinking helped to shape the modern corporation. He said:
“Doing the right things is more important than doing things right.”
In other words, it is better to choose a difficult path towards the outcomes you want than an easy path towards the wrong results. It is better to move slowly in the right direction than move quickly in the wrong one, better to do the right things imperfectly than do the wrong things well.
Reading this now that might seem obvious. But how many times have you gone along with what seemed easy rather than standing up for what mattered? How many times have you allowed a situation to slide only to find it getting worse?
Sailing brings a useful metaphor.
If the winds are blowing in the direction you want to travel then your decision is easy: you sail downwind. But when the wind is blowing against you, you don’t give up and go to the port that the wind is now blowing towards. Instead, you tack and jibe across the wind to take you to where you want to go. And even though you seem to be pointing in the wrong direction, you are actually moving towards your chosen destination.
Choosing the best way forward is not just about finding more opportunities — it’s about choosing the way forward that is best for you, even if 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.
In your work, and in your life, are you going where the wind blows or are you deliberately moving towards a destination that matters to you?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also have to practice.)