Learning from the situation brings you five more opportunities

Ten years ago the challenges you face today would probably not have arisen for you. You were likely in a different role and you probably didn’t have the skills or experience to be able to do what you can do today. In the same way, situations you found challenging then are probably routine for you now.

The abilities you have today are a direct result of the challenges you faced in the past. Which means the so-called ‘difficulties’ you face today are actually opportunities for you to become the kind of person you want to become.

This brings you five more opportunities for how you might choose to move forward:

  1. Apply your existing skills
    Under this option you might choose to address the situation by applying the skills you already have. Now a ‘crisis’ becomes an opportunity for you simply to practice, hone, or renew your existing abilities.
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  2. Develop or Improve your skills
    Another option would be to use the situation as an opportunity to develop new skills or abilities. Again, the so-called ‘problem’ becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.
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  3. Transform your abilities
    The ultimate opportunity is to be able to prevent situations like this from even arising. As Sun Tzu put it, “The greatest general is the one who defeats an enemy without fighting.” What skills would you have needed in order to have prevented this situation from arising? Who has those skills? How could you learn from their approach?

If none of these options seems appropriate there are two more alternatives you might choose:

  1. Ignore the situation
    You might choose to ignore the situation and live with it. This could be appropriate if you have other, higher priorities to address. Or you might want others to learn and develop their skills. Your opportunity here is to improve your abilities to prioritise, to delegate, or to develop your team.
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  2. Remove your skills to somewhere else
    A final option is to use the event as a trigger to move to a different role: perhaps one that has more meaning for you, that better matches your needs, or that will develop or reward you better. This time the so-called ‘crisis’ becomes an opportunity to get clearer on the priorities that matter most to you and then take action to pursue them.
    (And the clearer you are about who you want to become, the better you can decide which option to take.)

Together with the five types of outcome you might choose to create, this gives a total of ten types of opportunity you can look for in any situation.

Simply looking for those opportunities will bring you benefits. And the more options you find, the more likely you are to find a way forward that inspires you. This puts you back in control. And it makes you more antifragile.

Are you facing a challenge or a ‘crisis’ today? Are you seeing it as a ‘problem’ or as an ‘opportunity’ to develop or expand your skills? How many options can you find under each heading? Which inspires you most?


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 need to practice.)


Photo By KitAy via StockPholio.net

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