Choosing to learn brings 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. This means the challenges you face today are actually opportunities for you to develop into the kind of person you want to become.

This brings you five more opportunities for moving forward:

  1. Apply your existing skills
    Under this option you choose to apply the skills you already have, to address the situation. The so-called ‘crisis’ becomes an opportunity for you to practice or demonstrate your existing abilities.
  2. Develop or Improve your skills
    Here you use the situation as an opportunity to expand your abilities: perhaps by developing a new skill or by applying your existing abilities to a situation that is significantly larger or more complex than you have faced before. The so-called ‘problem’ is actually an opportunity to learn and grow.
  3. Transform your abilities
    This is the ultimate opportunity: to learn the skills that could have prevented the crisis from happening in the first place. As Sun Tzu said, “The greatest general is the one who defeats an enemy without fighting.”

And if none of these options seems appropriate, there are two more:

  1. Ignore the situation
    Even though you could apply your existing skills or learn new ones, you choose to ignore or live with the situation. You do this either because it is not a priority for you to address it, or so that others can learn and develop their skills and competencies. By not engaging with it directly, the so-called ‘problem’ becomes an opportunity for you to improve your abilities to prioritise, delegate, or develop your team.
  2. Remove your skills to somewhere else
    Here you choose 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. The so-called ‘crisis’ now simply becomes the final straw that nudges you into the opportunity of choosing a better way forward, and gives you clarity on who you are and what you want to do with your life.

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

Simply looking for these opportunities will bring benefits.

And being able to give yourself ten types of options to choose between makes it more likely that you will find a way forward that works best for you. It also makes you more antifragile.

Are you facing a challenge today? Are you seeing it as a problem or as an opportunity to develop or expand your skills? How many options do you have under each heading? Which way forward is best for you now?

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

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Photo By Andrew Blight via

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