The keys to opportunity are recognizing windows of opportunity, having buffers in terms of time and energy so you can leverage opportunity, and evaluating trade-offs of missed opportunities. The following are solutions at a glance for finding, exploiting, and maximizing opportunities:
How to test the potential of an opportunity
Imagination is not enough. Test your results. Find the smallest thing you can do to test an opportunity for feasibility. Lots of things look good on paper or sound good in theory; yet, they don’t pan out. In contrast, lots of things can sound silly but turn out to work great. Test against reality to best assess an opportunity.
How to experiment more often
Give yourself the freedom to experiment, by simply calling more things experiments. For example, try something new; at worst, have that be an experiment if it doesn’t work out. Find a simple system for adding experiments into your life. For example, it might mean picking a focus for the month and testing your results. You can then cycle through a different experiment each month. You can also test whether adding an experiment each week helps you find more breakthroughs.
How to innovate in your approach
Periodically test new techniques against results. Changing how you do what you do can boost your results. Evaluate both the process and the results. You might not change your results, but you might change how much you enjoy the process. Changes like these are worthwhile since they help you achieve more sustainable results.
How to create effective buffers
Even if you don’t feel like the proverbial camel where one more straw will break your back, create buffers of time, space and quantity. Create space by having places that help you get far enough away that you can step back from the problem or situation, and see the bigger picture. Work at a pace where you can get things quickly off your plate rather than being constantly overloaded, and you will naturally have spare capacity. This will help you deal with unexpected events as well as capitalize on opportunity. I’ve heard from an acquaintance who knew someone at the White House that it’s policy for the President to be able to make a chunk of time available within a few hours’ notice if needed; by design, the schedule cannot be packed back-to-back with too-important-to-reschedule items. In terms of quantity, have less open work or fewer balls in the air. Instead of five commitments, have three. Focus on the vital few.