Spotting problems is easy. Almost everybody can do that.
Solving problems is much more difficult. Not everyone seems up to that task. Problematically, more people are content to spot a problem (also known as moaning, groaning and complaining) than they are contributing to the solution.
But even solving problems isn’t the highest art. Spotting and exploiting opportunities is a personal and organizational leadership skill.
(By the way, “exploiting” is the correct word for seizing and taking advantage of an opportunity or situation. Exploitation becomes negative when it is done to people. Because exploitation has a potential negative connotation it is important to understand the difference.)
Why are spotting opportunities hard?
First, it requires a conscious effort. Rarely do we stumble upon opportunities, and even if we do we won’t recognize them if we aren’t paying attention.
Second, it requires a contrary focus. Today most people are focused on their problems and not their opportunities. Our natural focus seems to be on what’s wrong rather than what’s right or what could be better.
Third, opportunities are often subtle rather than obvious. Furthermore, they often come disguised as a problem and then you have to look hard to find the opportunity hidden in the problem. (Most people just see a problem as a problem.)
Once you’re spotted an opportunity you must take action to exploit it. Opportunities not acted upon are nothing more than possibilities. Leaders are those who turn possibilities into reality. But that takes work, not wishful thinking.
Are you looking for and acting on opportunities?