I read an intriguing quote from the actor Ethan Hawke: “One of the most frustrating things about acting is that you’re only ever as good as your opportunities.” This struck me as a profound insight: people are only as good as the environment in which they are in.
I have seen this phenomenon play out during organizational change. People perform at their worst in a poor work environment, regardless of their skill level. On the positive side, people perform at their best in an engaging and supportive environment, regardless of the level of change.
An important part of Change Management is creating an environment where people can successfully adopt new ways of thinking and behaving. It’s difficult to build because everyone (including senior leaders) are wrestling with their own transition. If done well, however, they choose hope over despair and in so doing remove their own barriers to adoption.
My second reflection was that Ethan was frustrated by his reality, whereas I found it elating. If you are only as good as your opportunities, you need to find the best opportunities so you can thrive. Networking through public speaking, seminars, association meetings, newsletters and this blog has provided me with many opportunities. Most of them have taken me in directions I wouldn’t have thought of or found on my own.
If uncovering opportunities is the goal, how do you find them? Here are some tips on uncovering opportunities that will enable you to be your best:
- Believe that your best work is ahead of you — some people stop looking because they are in maintain mode
- Make connecting with others a priority — as Ernest Hemingway said, “You make your own luck”
- Help others find new opportunities — your generosity will be appreciated and reciprocated
- Define what a good opportunity means to you — they are easier to spot when you know what they look like
- Give yourself flex time in your schedule so you can seize them — I am working on this one
- Evaluate the details before agreeing to an opportunity — it might be a burden in disguise
- Thank those who connect you to opportunities — gratitude is linked to satisfaction and it will remind you to return the favour
- Tell people you are looking for new opportunities — many will become your ambassadors
This week, I had a great call with someone I had been introduced to by email. It turns out we had the same manager at different companies when we worked in Europe. What are the odds? I want to connect him with an opportunity. The odds are very good.