Lean In – when opportunity meets preparation

Are you a lucky person?  Do you find yourself in the right place at the right time?  Seneca, a first-century Roman philosopher, said, “Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet.”   This concept has been modernised in the latest book by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg titled, “Lean In”.  In the book she talks about how women often hold themselves back, and in order to reach their goals they should be prepared to Lean In to life and take advantage of the opportunities that come to them.

My Lean In story explains how I took advantage of the opportunity to go to the North Pole, and was confident to do so because I had been preparing for the moment for the previous ten years, doing sport, going on expeditions and building my self belief. However I did not know that the North Pole was going to be how I could maximise my opportunity.

Maximising Opportunity

Opportunities are all around us, but we have be in the right frame of mind to be alert to them.  It’s just like when you think about buying a new pair of red shoes. Suddenly when you walk down the street you notice that quite a lot of people wear red shoes, and more than you had previously thought.  It’s only because you have told yourself to be alert to them, that they come to your attention.  So in order to maxiimise opportuntiy you have to know the direction you want to go in.  In business it is often called a Vision.  What a vision does is that it organises reality in a certain way, enabling you to notice more.

Last weekend I was on a training course arranged by UK College of Personal Development, where Robert Dilts and Pilar Godino talked about how to craft a vision.  Think about what you want and then begin to craft the vision using some of the ideas below:

  • Using a simple statement “we want to sail to Africa
  • Using the theme – Transform X into Y e.g. “transform this piece of waste ground into a playschool”
  • Using a Symbolic or Metephorical statement e.g. “our new centre wiill be like walking into a room and feeling comfortable immediately

The vision will help you to have a broad direction in which to go (in terms of what you might see, hear and feel) and then when opportunities come along that could help you move towards that vision, you are more likely to be alert to them.

Clive Steeper, Tony Nutley, Robert Dilts, Pilar Godino,Sue Stockdale at UKCPD event

Being Prepared

Liiving life to the full is about being prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they come along.  It is important to ask yourself the questions “what is the worst that can happen?” or “why not?” and to have a positive outlook about what is possible. Being prepared means accepting a degree of uncertainty, being proactive, and having a level of self belief.  By taking time out to reflect on what you have learned over the years, or how your experience many be relevant for a particular opportunity, it can help you to be ready.

For example, women coming back into the workplace after having a family sometimes do not always return with the same degree of confidence that they had when they were at work full -time.  It can be beneficial to think ahead before going on maternity leave, and make sure that they maintain relationships with key people in work, so that they don’t get forgotten when not being seen on a day to day basis.  That type of preparation can yield beneficial results in the longer term.

So make sure you are ready to Lean in when the next opportunity presents itself by being prepared.




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