The Hunt for
By Jay Forte
Ours is an unpredictable world. Many times, regardless of how
effectively we plan, some things just fail. The dinner party that
should have been great based on the planning, but the meal was a
disaster. The meeting’s presentation that was well prepared, but
then the equipment failed. Or, a disciplined and diligent savings
plan that lost nearly half of its value in today’s recession. These
challenging situations define our days. Some curse and yell; others
see them for the opportunities they present. Inaugural Poet Maya
Angelou writes, “I've
learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she
handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled
Christmas tree lights.” Failures, changes and unexpected events have
the ability to either destroy or advance; it is in our outlook and
response that allows us to turn these failures into opportunities.
Thomas Alva Edison experienced repeated failures. His true
success was not his invention of the light bulb, but rather his
tenacity and outlook that believed failures were a means to gain new
information and new perspectives. Our most successful employees are
not those who land on their feet after every project or event;
instead, they are those who have the persistence and optimism to
learn from difficulty and use what they learn to re-imagine,
recreate and re-experiment. They are the ones who have learned to be
positive and to constantly hunt for opportunities.
constantly hunt for opportunities, perform better, innovate more and
succeed in tough times because they possess the following qualities:
support and live a culture that teaches, inspires and encourages
employees to look for the opportunity in every event.
Failures are unparalleled opportunities to reinvent success.
These organizations “celebrate extraordinary failures and punish
average successes.” Effort, innovation and intent are
celebrated; unusual, non-conventional and non-conformist
perspectives are applauded. Occasional failures show that
employees are pushing performance to the edge. As Tom Peters
states, “A day without a screw up is a day without enough
reach.” These workplaces encourage their employees to focus on
the positive; they create a culture that is open, free thinking,
and believes “yes we can.”
the time and effort to help employees learn their strengths and
use them to develop opportunity-thinking.
Each of us has the potential to be great at certain things; we each have
intrinsic talents and strengths. Successful employees know their
talents and understand that these talents help them to be
naturally perceptive in certain areas; they commit to
deliberative practice in develop these areas. They focus their
hunt for opportunities in their talent and strengths areas,
areas in which they have the greatest insight.
on learning and actively solicit input from everyone. Organizations that hunt for opportunities are always
learning, asking great questions and are exceptional listeners.
They listen to new perspectives, facts, ideas and dreams. They
listen to customers, employees, vendors and strangers. They read
books, blogs, periodicals, and newspapers. They read and listen
to topics that may appear to be unrelated. They regularly ask,
“how about,” or, “what if.” They assess what they hear; they
consider everything. They then share what they hear with their
teams to expand their hunt for opportunities.
on exponential, not incremental, opportunities.
All discussions of opportunities are directed to significant,
not average, results; performance “lite” is unacceptable. They
use the information they glean about the market, customer,
strengths, and trends to consider opportunities that have the
potential to be significant. Successful organizations know
nothing lasts forever and they must continually reinvent
themselves – each time more significantly than the last. These
organizations constantly review what they do; they focus on the
exponential in their hunt for exponential opportunities.
success with everyone.
Today’s best ideas are not uniquely resident in management.
Organizations that hunt for opportunities realize that
opportunity-thinking must happen at every level. Therefore, all
successes are openly shared and celebrated. Failures are
communicated to inspire employees to rethink, redefine and
reinvent. In an intellectual workplace, innovation, inventing
and opportunity hunting must be core expectations of all
employees; every employee must watch, listen and communicate
more effectively to identify improvements and opportunities. The
more successes are shared with everyone, and failures are seen
as a way to improve, the more performance- and idea-risks
employees will take – all in the hunt for opportunities.
In today’s uncertain recessionary period – where the regular,
average or incremental approaches are not sufficient – successful
organizations have mobilized their teams to be on the hunt for
opportunities. It may be in a retail store that creates a new and
more “hip” line of products that are less expensive to match today’s
reductions in consumer spending. It may be a restaurant that now
opens at lunch, creates a mobile delivery van, or a special take-out
section, to appeal to a changed demographic. It may be a financial
services firm that sponsors savings, investing and retirement
education to create more savvy and loyal investors who better
appreciate and value the firm’s conservative and pragmatic approach.
Some people are distracted or discouraged by failure and
change. Others see these as opportunities for greater success. This
perspective comes is encouraged and supported in a culture that is
on a constant hunt for ways to be better and to make a greater
difference. Not only can the hunt for opportunities increase your
success, but it may help you invent the next product, service or
idea the rest of us cannot live without.
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