Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Opportunity knocks … if you can see past the problems

SwartzA couple of days ago, I wrote about the troubles I had in flying from St. Louis to Baltimore. Turns out I wasn't the only one.

Acclaimed author and thought leader James Swartz actually made it onto his plane in Chicago on his way to Baltimore, where he was to give the keynote speech the following morning at the MACPA's first-ever Maryland Business and Accounting Expo. Then, everything stopped. The storms in Baltimore forced a groundstop in Chicago, too. Swartz and his fellow passengers sat on the tarmac for hours, then were brought back to the terminal for a change in flight crews.

At that point, Swartz didn't know when his plane would leave, so he rented a car and drove 14 hours to Baltimore. MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood talked him down the JFX and into town via cell phone, and Swartz arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center about 10 minutes before his speech was scheduled to begin.

Now that's dedication.

It's also a great story that ties in directly with Swartz's message that day: Some people see problems; great leaders see opportunities.

The key to success in almost everything, says Swartz, is to first identify great opportunities, then eliminate the obstacles to seizing those opportunties. Michelangelo did as much when he sculpted his legendary "David": He envisioned his final masterpiece, then he removed the excess stone to free his sculpture. Hence the title of Swartz's book, Seeing David in the Stone.

"Great opportunities produce very high value for the time, effort and resources required to find and seize them," Swartz said. "By learning how to find and seize great opportunities, you will bring greatness to your own life and you will lead others to greatness."

The short version is this: Don't focus on problems. Focus instead on opportunities, then figure out how to eliminate the problems. You'll find greater detail in the slides from Swartz's presentation.

Can you think of an example of how you've done this? If so, share it with us.


Bill Sheridan