How often have you heard the phrase ‘lead by example’? Probably one too many times. We’re all told that we ought to lead by example without any understanding of what leaders do, much less how they think. First and foremost we must recognize that great leaders from all walks of life embrace entrepreneurship not only in action but entrepreneurship in its truest form. Which means they entrepreneu in all aspects of their lives. Entrepreneu is a verb and it constitutes many elements, but we’ll focus on one key element of what it means to entrepreneu here: Leveraging Opportunity.
Great leaders are great opportunists. They are patient and wistful about the right opportunity. This doesn’t mean they idly wait for the perfect time to make a move. It means that they make the best of their current scenario. An effective leader does that in two ways.
When we think of creating opportunity, we realize that we must make decisions that help us create the right opportunity. Yet with decision making, we often think simply in the terms of a decision that leads to one good outcome and another that perhaps leads to one bad outcome. The key word to be understood here is ‘one.’ To create real opportunities, we must think of decisions that could be made that lead us to arrive at multiple positive outcomes.
Great leaders are in a constant hunt for opportunities where they can apply the law of dual reasoning, when their one action stems from two distinct and profitable reasons. In such a scenario, through the outcome of their decision they will have positioned themselves in a way to have a choice of two positive options instead of one good and one bad outcome. This enables them to create opportunity with choices.
More often than not we’re put in situations that we are not content with. Life doesn’t always pan out as we plan it, which is why we must adopt the mentality of Leveraging Circumstance. The mentality of Leveraging Circumstance comes from the understanding of what the great author Napoleon Hill once said: “Every adversity, every heartache carries within itself a seed of equivalent or greater benefit.” When we truly understand what the author is trying to say, we can begin to leverage our circumstances. In simple terms, we’re speaking of that silver lining in things that don’t go our way.
Great leaders have mastered the art of searching for the opportunity in their troubled times, because opportunities have a unique characteristic of being incredibly sly as they hide behind adversity. A very good example of the scenario is something that happened to me some time ago. I was supposed to catch a flight at 7:00 PM one evening and due to unexpected traffic, I missed the flight because I arrived at the airport 15 minutes after the check-in time. At that point, there wasn’t much any of us could do. Now I had a choice either to have a bad attitude and curse my luck or to embrace the situation I couldn’t have controlled and move on in my search for that opportunity. I chose the latter. As I began my arrangements for the next flight, I was told the next flight wasn’t until the following day at 11:00 AM. I chose to stay at a hotel near the airport. As I stepped out of my hotel for dinner, I asked around for a restaurant where I could try some new food. Turns out that the person I spoke with was a gentleman from my very own industry of Learning and Development. He was the L&D head of a large steel manufacturing company. We connected and engaged in a work-related conversation and how this could lead to us to doing business together in the near future which could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for my company.
From this experience, I can’t help but think: What if I would’ve had a bad attitude about having missed my flight? What if I didn’t know and understand this mentality of leveraging my circumstance? I wouldn’t have been in the right frame of mind to cheerfully converse with people around me. After all, no one wants to engage in a conversation with a melancholy person. So in a nutshell, leaders become great by being opportunists in two ways:
- They Create Opportunities through dual reasoning.
- They Leverage Circumstance by searching for opportunity though adversity.
The next time you feel you lack opportunity, ask yourself how many opportunities have you leveraged in your current circumstance and what was your dual reasoning behind your decision which could lead to ample opportunity.