Defining Opportunity

When I give a speech I always try to interview a dozen people from the audience beforehand to better understand their situation. Two of the questions I usually ask are, “What are the two greatest challenges your organization is dealing with in the next 100 days?” and “What are the two greatest opportunities your organization has in the next 100 days?”

Recently I asked a CEO this question for an upcoming meeting. He answered the question on challenges and then asked me how I defined opportunities. While I’m big on defining words, I had not thought of defining opportunity. So I said, “Anything that you can leverage now to improve your future.”

In retrospect, I like that answer. What can you leverage now to improve your future? Is there a person in your organization that you could mentor for greater performance down the road? If yes, then that’s an opportunity. Is there a particularly cranky customer you could proactively reach out to and ask for his or her opinion that might help solidify your relationship with that person? If yes, then that’s an opportunity. Is there an idea you’ve had in your head for over a year about how to create more appropriate value for your customers that you could start to put into motion? If yes, then that’s an opportunity.

What can you leverage today that might improve your future? There’s your opportunity.

With the CEO it turned out that his answer about his challenges ended up being his same answer about his opportunities.

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