Thursday, November 6, 2008

Opportunity Galore

Prior to the Presidential election, Barack Obama appeared via satellite on John Stewart's comedy show, The Daily Show. One of the most important questions John asked of Barack Obama was "why do you want this job?" But he went further and clarified what he meant. He compared America to a car. "It is like getting a car" Stewart said. "When you were looking at it at first it was brand new. Now it's looking pretty dinged up and bad. Why would you want to be president with all of the difficulties facing you? Why not just walk away?" Obama laughed and replied that it is in difficult times that a president can really make a difference. So many people need someone to help them right now. Now presidential decisions really impact people's lives.

Earlier today, I was in a room full of middle management leaders of non-profit organizations. They listed all of the challenges facing them in this economic crisis. Some were content to stay mired in the difficulty of it all, bemoaning the fact that they could not do anything. Yet, all of a sudden some other managers spoke up and said that there was opportunity here. One saw the opportunity to offer a lower cost, high quality option for parents desiring good education for their children and stated that now they are being taken more seriously. Still another manager acknowledged that this downturn gave permission for some people to admit they needed help and her agency could now step in to offer help to so many more people.

Same situation, yet some people see barriers where others see bridges. Some leaders stop and wait for the difficulty to go away while others stop momentarily to roll up their sleeves and then dive in to see what they can do. Some complain that the circumstances inhibit them from proceeding, while others embrace the circumstances and proceed anyway. Greatness resides in the latter responses.

Difficulties always arise. Yet difficulties are only an indication that the path is not straight or level. It simply means that we have to steer a little differently.

The current situation in the world is challenging. It requires new ways of thinking and acting. Most of all, it requires great individuals to step up and lead. This time is ripe for great women and men to come forward. Historically, it is in the times of turmoil that great individuals rise and are recognized.

How are you responding? Are you searching for bridges, rolling up your sleeves and embracing the circumstances?