Opportunities are created around us every day. Many times, we see them. Sometimes we don’t. We may miss opportunities, or we may grab onto one that’s not a good fit. Either way, we end up stuck. As leaders, if we want to be effective, we need to be willing to let go of missed opportunities and focus on preparing for those coming our way next.

Have you ever heard the phrase: “They’ve been promoted beyond their ability”? Maybe you’ve worked with someone in that situation, or maybe you’ve been that person. Truth is, not every person is the right fit for every opportunity. However, all of us may choose to invest in ourselves in a way that expands our ability to embrace the opportunities that are right for us.

If you are willing to do the work, these questions will help you be ready for your next opportunity.

1 – Am I stuck on something that happened yesterday?

As leaders, we are more effective when we focus on what needs to be done today, as well as what we need to prepare for tomorrow. Many times, though, we get stuck struggling with past regrets or the opinions of others. When we understand that nothing we do today will change what happened yesterday, and we learn that, sometimes, nothing we do will change how others feel, we are free to focus on today, which makes us more effective leaders.

When we remain “today focused,” we are more apt to recognize opportunities as they come, and we are better able to take advantage of those opportunities.

2 – Am I taking responsibility for where I am today?

There are several factors wrapped up in this question. Answering it requires us to be self-aware and socially aware, and to answer a few more questions, including:

“Am I taking care of me?”

“Am I doing something to grow today?”

“Do I know what my people need?”

“Am I giving my people what they need?”

The most important takeaway here is to ask those questions in order to create the answers that will be best for you. My answers will be different from your answers, and that’s okay. If we bump up against a “no” as the honest answer to any of these questions, that’s a strong indicator of whether or not we’re taking responsibility for where we are today. It also creates an opportunity to grow.

3 – What beliefs am I filtering my leadership through?

Too many times, as leaders, we are not seeing clearly, because we are looking at things through past failures, unfulfilled expectations, our fears or our pride. When we choose to step back, set aside those versions of ourselves and others and take an honest look at where we are, we will have a much clearer perspective on the environment our leadership is creating as well as the opportunities around us.

4 – How do I respond to new information?

Sometimes, as leaders, we treat responsibility and blame as two sides of the same coin. While we are certainly responsible for what happens on our watch, when we view responsibility through a blame filter, we block progress, creating unseen obstacles to effective leadership. We begin to see new information or positive suggestions as “blame” to be deflected. We don’t mean to be difficult or to create obstacles to success. However, when we’re so wrapped up in seeing new information as a challenge to our authority or a critique of our leadership, we miss growth opportunities, both for ourselves and our team.

Do you struggle with any of these questions? What are some questions that have opened up doors of opportunity for you? Share your story in the comments below.



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