The Leaders Notebook

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PonderThis: Opportunity Passes Quickly

December 11th, 2009 · No Comments · Leadership, Literature and Myth, PonderThis

I have been in Norway and the UK this week and the papers are full of scandal, controversy and panic.  But I also sat in on a strategy conversation with a leadership team who reminded me of something easily forgotten in tough times.  Opportunity is most easily grabbed early.  It is harder to grasp and hold after the moment has passed.  A singular cost and efficiency focus can keep a company in hard times much longer than their more courageous competitors.

There is a word in Greek, kairos, that roughly translates to “In the right time.”  The root of the word comes from Caerus, who was the youngest son of Zeus.  Caerus is the personification of opportunity.  He is most often depicted as a young man who is fleet of foot and easily identified by a large dangling forelock.

The message of Caerus’ appearance is clear.  “Grab me if you can- but get me while I am headed your way because I will pass quickly.  Once I do it will be much harder to catch and hold me. “

Leadership is tough work.  It asks that we not focus only on survival during tough times.  We must also be constantly looking for Caerus as he approaches.  And, we must overcome the timidity, fear and plain old inertia that allows him to pass without even the thought of reaching out.  Not every opportunity is right for your organization.  But it will be the energy of new opportunity that creates the change to take us out of the current economic doldrums.  We can save our way to survival, but not to prosperity.

Take the weekend to ponder what opportunities approach:

  • What will it take for your organization to be ready to reach out and grab opportunities before they pass- even in tough times?
  • How will you recognize the ones that are yours to grab and the ones to let pass?
  • How will you tell the difference between fear, bravado and wisdom as you evaluate those opportunities- and do so in time to take advantage?

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