How to Capitalize on Unpredictability

The last few years of economic and job market uncertainty have caused many of us to nearly have stress-induced heart attacks, but some fellow professionals have come out better than ever.  Why?

Business consultant Donna Every thinks she has the answer.  “Some people have been successful during the recession because they haven’t relied on the standard approaches they’d use in more predictable times,” she says.  “Instead, they look for opportunities in situations that would have been considered negatives five years ago.”

Although our economic situation is certainly improving, there’s still too much uncertainty to go back to the old ways of doing things.  To that end, here are a few of Every’s suggestions for taking advantage of the unpredictable circumstances that thwart most other people.

Build On What You Already Have

Instead of setting goals and then seeking out the resources you’ll need to meet those goals, assess what you have available and decide what you can achieve. This approach saves you time and money, and it also allows you to leverage your organization’s individual and unique strengths.

Follow the Las Vegas Rule

Tourists planning a weekend in Las Vegas will often set aside the amount of money they’re willing to gamble – and lose — on cards or the slots.  That way, they won’t lose more than they can afford.  Rather than going after the biggest opportunities as you would in prosperous times, look for the opportunities that won’t require as many resources.  Calculate how much you can afford to lose, and always consider the worst-case scenario.

Join Hands and Hearts

Competition is fine when things are going well, but when times are tough, you need allies. Form partnerships with other people who do what you do so you can strategize to create opportunities together.  Alongside what your partners bring to the table, you’ll have more options with which to work.

Embrace the Unexpected

Surprises can have positive outcomes if you handle them nimbly.  Instead of focusing solely on damage control, identify opportunities that are arising due to new developments.  The universe works in mysterious ways and usually we find out later that everything happened for a reason.

Abandon Forecasting

Focus on what you can do and create now rather than what you can expect based on what happened in the past.  In good times, that information can be a helpful and reliable way to make predictions, but savvy professionals know that this is a brave new world with entirely different outcomes.

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