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, the 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 that any challenges you face today are actually opportunities for you to become the kind of person you want to become tomorrow. And you get to choose what you respond to and how you respond: you get to choose who you will become.

This brings you five more opportunities for how you might choose to move forward from whatever situation you are facing now:

  1. Apply your existing skills
    Under this option you might choose to address the situation by applying the skills you already have. Now even a supposed ‘crisis’ becomes an opportunity for you to practice or hone 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, a so-called ‘problem’ becomes an opportunity for you to learn and grow.
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  3. Transform your abilities
    The ultimate skill would be to have been able to prevent the current situation from arising in the first place. As Sun Tzu put it, “The greatest general is the one who defeats an enemy without fighting.” So your third opportunity is to learn whatever skills or abilities would have enabled you to prevent the current situation from arising. This is the most powerful response. (And the book says more about how you can learn to do this.)

If none of these paths seems attractive there are also two other options you might choose:

  1. Ignore the situation
    You might choose to ignore the current 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. So your opportunity here is for you to improve your ability to prioritise, to delegate, or to develop your team.
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  2. Remove your skills to somewhere else
    The 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. Now the so-called ‘crisis’ has become an opportunity that helps you get clear about what matters most to you and to gain the courage and the motivation to take action to pursue those priorities.

Together with the five different types of outcome you might choose to create, this means there are potentially ten types of opportunity that might exist in any situation. And there could be more than one solution under each type.

The more options you find, the more likely you become to find a way forward that truly inspires you and the people around you to long to make it happen. And even looking for these opportunities will bring you benefits.

All of which puts you back in control and 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, to become the person you most want to become? How many options can you find under each of the five headings? Which way forward 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 can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also need to do the practice.)


Photo By KitAy via StockPholio.net

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