Leaders are often acknowledged for their ability to leverage opportunities that are presented to them. Just as often, they create opportunities out of ordinary events. In other words, they not only open the door when someone is knocking, they do the knocking themselves.
Why does this make a good leader? Because without the chance to make something happen, we’re all just standing still waiting for someone else to go first. We follow. Not that the world doesn’t need followers, but we all need to find the courage to make things happen and to take opportunities when they present themselves.
So why don’t we? Fear, mostly. Fear of the unknown, fear of looking stupid, fear of loss. But if we let fear rule our decisions, we never have the chance to lead and to realize that fear is simply a state of mind. Try imagining the worst that could possibly happen if you did take advantage of an opportunity that is available to you now – the absolute worst possible outcome, and sit with it for a bit. Come up with a few ways you would deal with that scenario. How would you manage it or mitigate it? Now that you know the worst and you have recognized that you can handle it, what about the opposite? Imagine the best possible outcome. Is the risk worth the possible reward? This is a leadership decision, leadership of yourself and your life. Once you bring fear into the light and examine it, vs. running from an imagined nightmare, you will see it’s not rooted in the reality of now. The truth is the worst thing we can imagine almost never happens.
Last week I talked about the leader in all of us, and our leadership story. I was thinking about those times I sat back, didn’t step up, and ended up with a story I wasn’t happy about. It just takes one time opening the door of opportunity – either because it came knocking, or because you knocked on it, for you to realize that you have a leader inside just itching to move forward with courage. The worst won’t kill you. You will survive making a mistake. The fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality of the actual outcome.
Leaders make opportunities for themselves and others. So start with yourself and try opening a door or two that has caused you fear. Peek around before you pull the door wide open if you have to, but do open it. No one is going to do it for you. Half the fun of opening a door is seeing what happens. Think of it as a grab bag of opportunities that can lead you to a new level of leadership of yourself, your organization and your life.