The key attitude that defines leadership


When George de Mestral came home from a walk one day to find his clothes and dog all covered in burrs he didn’t just remove them, he looked closely at how they worked. And then he invented Velcro.

When engineers building a tunnel through a Japanese mountain found they had a problem with leaking water they didn’t just seal the leaks, they bottled the water, sold it as mineral water, and built a brand worth more than $50m/year.

When Travis Kalanick and a friend couldn’t get a taxi in Paris one day they didn’t just complain about it, they founded Uber. And the rest, as we know, is history.

We’ve all faced situations like these but we probably didn’t respond in the ways these people did.

And though these examples all seem very different, they all shared one thing in common. The people in them all had the same attitude: the attitude of looking for ways to turn ‘problems’ into  opportunities.

This is the key attitude that defines leadership. And in a time of change it will become invaluable.

It is also an essential step to using change to become stronger, another step towards becoming antifragile.

Are you facing any ‘problems’ at the moment? Would it be useful to be able to find the opportunities behind those difficulties?

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.)

Photo by gfpeck via

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