I often ask my kids “Would you rather” questions. They love it because it gets them thinking. I love asking them questions like…
Would you rather have the superpower to turn invisible or be super strong?
My one son would rather be super strong while my other son would like to be invisible.
The idea of turning invisible is tempting to anyone especially if they get embarrassed. We want to hide when we feel embarrassed, overwhelmed and tired. We feel safer.
When we explore our inner thoughts and dialogue a whole world opens up to us. We understand why we choose a coke over sparkling water during a stressful day. We understand why we keep getting irritated by an annoying coworker.
Think of the moments when you have your most creative ideas. It’s often during a shower, walk, working out, meditating, praying etc. It’s because we are slowing down and connecting with the universe, God, infinite, or whatever you want to call it. This is where we find our hidden opportunities.
There are opportunities that are often lurking in hidden places inside of ourselves. The fastest way to making better decisions, wiser decisions is to adjust the lens that we have on the situation. This can be hard when we get hooked by our emotions, but it’s a mindset tool that we must work with.
It’s why CEOs utilize meditation. They need to practice centering themselves. They often make billion dollar decisions and don’t want to get too attached to a particular outcome. They have to practice slowing down, zooming out and seeing all the variables of a situation. They can’t clearly see all their choices if they are caught in their frustration of not reaching a goal.
To make these choices visible, not even clear yet, we have to stretch outside our comfort zone. We can’t see these hidden opportunities because we get caught up in wanting the situation to be different. We must practice stretching our lens of a situation by listening to our inner voices. We will eventually let go of what we want and see all the possibilities that are right there. We just needed to take off our lens of frustration and replace it with the lens of curiosity.
I know this sounds simplistic and maybe a bit corny, but hear me out. This is such a powerful mindset tool that 99% of professional aren’t using. I call it the Daily Dig. You can get a leg up on your decision making skills by practicing this concept. I promise. Just give me a week of practice and you’ll start to see great results.
I recently watched an old movie clip from the 80’s called “They Live”. The main actors, Keith David (Roddy Piper), and Meg Foster found glasses that helped him see the aliens that lived among his society. He took the glasses off and everyone looked human. When he put the glasses on he could see their true identity.
We all wear our own perspective. This is called the reticular activating system. We look at life from past experiences. This is a good thing. If we had to process and understand the situation from scratch we would be exhausted. It also hurts us. We live out old stories and we don’t break out of old ways of doing things. That’s why we must practice tapping into the superpower of metacognition. We must find a way to slow down, reflect and make quality choices. This process helps us use our frontal cortex.
You have opportunities that are hidden from you. One of the best ways to shine a light on these opportunities is to talk to other people who understand your blindspots. They know what you do well and why you might be able to go after something that could make an impact in your life.
I recently was talking with a friend who owned a small business. They told me how they were losing people to other companies. I love these conversions. So we dug into it.
He explained that one guy came onboard and within two months he left and went to another job. He walked me through his onboarding process and company culture. It was fascinating to hear about all the opportunities he was leaving on the table.
A study was released from Mckinsey & Co. that explains why people quit their jobs.
The top three reasons employees quit their job were lack of career development and advancement (40%), low pay (36%), and uncaring/uninspiring leadership (34%). (1)
There are opportunities in why people quit their jobs. We can understand and course correct if we are willing to be curious.
Sometimes a company can’t or doesn’t want to compete on pay, which is fine because it’s like a rat chasing his tail. When he does catch it… It hurts.
The other two reasons, low pay and leadership, you do have control over as well. Check this out…
You can create a culture that cares about career development and leadership that focuses on coaching their employees. The problem is this takes a lot of effort from the leaders within a company. You have to create a coaching culture. This means you look for coaching opportunities at every turn.
This is the invisible opportunity that occurred because we had a conversation. He wasn’t thinking about becoming a better coach to his employees. He was thinking he needed to hire better.
Many years ago I used to hate coaching employees. I made so many mistakes with employees. It would always turn into an awkward conversation. I would stumble around and be afraid to be honest with them.
Being honest is not easy, but it’s vital to helping someone do more of the work that energizes them. If the conversations are shallow and there is no depth you don’t get to know each other. If you don’t form a deeper bond then there is no trust. You can’t be honest without trust. You tiptoe around each other instead of helping each other grow.
“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you leave that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again.” Swami Satchidananda
The more consistently you coach your employees the deeper you can go. It’s this depth that will help them focus on their strengths and navigate their weaknesses.
I had a client tell me, “I hate coaching my employees. It’s always awkward.”
The memories around difficult conversations can be pretty painful. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, leader in an organization or just trying to help a friend. One difficult conversation can stop you from trying again.
The idea is to break through these issues, go a little deeper and watch the magic happen. Make sure not to let go of your curiosity. When you watch what happens try not to get too caught up in wanting to confirm your hypothesis.
I had a client, Lauren, who struggled retaining her admins. Once we dug into the issues I began to see a pattern. Their expectations were far apart. This is a common issue with many employees. They think the job will be one thing and it ends up being a lot different.
This conversation with Lauren got me thinking that there needed to be more course correcting with the people in our lives. When we take the time to dig into each other's perspective we can have more honest conversations that help us do the things we love instead of what we think we should be doing.
If people are bored by their work they will deliver lousy results. If they feel connected to their work then they find opportunities for personal growth they will do great work. They seek out the hidden opportunities.
Try asking yourself:
What am I learning from this situation?
It’s a simple question that helps you slow down and get a deeper understanding of how you are dealing with the situation. Just being more aware of how you are thinking and feeling helps you find hidden opportunities that you didn’t expect. Sometimes it’s about learning to be more patient and not jump to conclusions that can help you build better relationships. Try writing down you answer in a journal to calm your anxiety and help you process
Next time you are irritated by a mistake from an employee or family member, use the moment as an opportunity to get curious. Dig into what is going on with yourself and see if there are any opportunities to grow and improve. That’s when you slow down to speed up. Instead of getting into a battle of egos and creating more frustration, which junks up everyone’s ability to make good decisions… You see the situation clearly. You see your side and theirs. It’s not about pointing fingers. It’s about getting a deeper understanding of how everything fits together, seeing the hidden opportunities and not being afraid to go after them.
I struggled in a lot of areas of my career. It wasn’t until I practiced my daily dig that I began to see my hidden opportunities in my relationships as well as my projects. Before I onboard someone to my team I explain who I am and my mission. I ask them their goals, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Then we have regularly scheduled check-ins to understand their struggles as well as their joys within the work. I have a whole process for this, but we can talk about this later.
It all starts with you. Finding the work that lights you up takes time. You have to work at peeling away your armor so you can be honest with yourself and the people in your life. Once you understand how to build a solid foundation and make time to maintain your foundation, everything else gets easier. You understand your relationship with money and the stories you tell yourself. You understand how your expectations of others creates tension in a relationship and how to navigate this part of your personality. You understand yourself and begin to be more forgiving to yourself and others.
Taking time to do a daily dig helps you expand your self awareness so you can make better decisions. Most of your decisions were based on past stories. You now have the opportunity to choose how you see a situation and act from a place of love, kindness, caring, etc. so you can grow personally and professionally.
Photos: Photo by Fox, Photo by Anna Shvets, Photo by The Coach Space, Photo by Ann H, Photo by Eren Li