Turn an Obstacle into an Opportunity
A Serendipitous Opportunity
Mmmmm...I love the sound of the word serendipitous. It happily rolls off the tongue and I wait for an opportunity to use it.
When my boys were in preschool, I read to them from a collection of books by Stephen Cosgrove - the Serendipity Series. The series begins with the story of Serendipity herself - a pink sea creature on a journey to discover who and what she really is.
Serendipity means "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." In other words...a happy accident.
History is filled with happy accidents; that is, an obstacle which turns into an opportunity. In fact, the website Gizmodo has a list of what they call the 10 Greatest Accidental Inventions of All Time. Included in that list are Play-Doh, the Microwave Oven, and Super Glue.
One example is the Kutol Products company, a manufacturer of a wallpaper cleaning compound. Bad news for them - it does't sell and they are headed into bankruptcy. However, they find out school children use the compound to make Christmas ornaments and craft projects. Kutol quickly grasps the opportunity in front of them. They remove the cleaning compound, add colors, and a fresh scent. Voila', they are saved! As a result, children around the world have fun, and parents have content kiddos.
The reality is that life and business are filled with obstacles. We can either be stopped by them or use them as an opportunity to do things in a different way.
The Obstacle to Opportunity Matrix
Obstacles give us the opportunity to learn new skills, develop new strengths and see the world in a different way. Rather than limitations, see them as a launchpad for creative new ideas. You don't necessarily need a radical new idea to break into the marketplace.
For example, The Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise became what it is today by curating stories people send in for consideration. Jack Canfield tells the story that there were extra pages at the end of the first book. When he and co-creator Mark Victor Hansen were asked what they wanted on the pages, it was suggested they simply invite people to send in their own stories. Happily, the submissions have come in by the hundreds of thousands. By sharing these stories, they created a way to write books and develop financial empires.
Today, you have an obstacle in your way. I know this because YOU are a human being. Take that obstacle out of the road and put it in a circle in the middle of a piece of paper. From that circle, draw 8 lines. At the end of each of those 8 lines, draw a circle. In each circle, write a different way to take advantage of that obstacle (turn it into an opportunity) or a way to overcome the problem. Either way, you'll take the power away from the obstacle, and give the power to the opportunity.
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