In the Middle of Difficulty Lies Opportunity, and Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
South African real estate titan Pam Golding says, “I have always believed that women can do anything they set their hearts on.” And I happen to agree with her.
However, achieving a goal isn’t always EASY. In fact, it is in the arduous journey of NOT QUITTING that we often find ourselves ARRIVING at the envisioned destination. Opportunity therefore lies in the difficult times.
This is the basis for ALL entrepreneurial endeavours. Finding a situation or story that doesn’t work and figuring out a way to innovate and monetize a solution is how ideas are born and businesses are made.
Just listen to the “How We Built This” podcast showcasing a variety of worldwide entrepreneurs. Every story is about someone facing a challenge in a normal situation or system, feeling a frustration, and then finding a solution. A solution that can also serve others and be monetized.
Take these businesses as examples…
Any company that is thriving, or just starting out today, was once conceived in the face of adversity.
Personally, I have experienced this truth both in LIFE & in business – finding opportunity in the midst of difficulty.
Building & Selling my Own Business
From a business perspective I faced this in all my entrepreneurial endeavours. I first moved to South Africa in 2008 and there was NO work for me as a foreigner without a completed tertiary education or special skill-set. I could’ve left the country, lost out on marrying the love of my life and building a family with him, but what I instead did was MAKE my own job. I had always worked in promotional spokes modelling and events so that is what I did. From this was born my company called Event Stars and from there I built and sold the business. I now speak to others on how to monetize their ideas and connect with their audience daily in a way that converts conversations to sales. I couldn’t have done this if I had quit in the midst of difficulty.
On a Personal Note – Childhood Trauma
On a personal note, I have overcome some pretty horrific childhood trauma. Moving around so much in my early years led to me living in 8 cities by the time I was 15 – 8 new schools and new sets of friends. Not only that, but my biological family was riddled with dysfunction, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and emotional abuse. My childhood was split in half when my Dad drove me to a foster home at the age of ten, dropped me off, said goodbye and never seeing me again. And I was then fostered and adopted by a new family. Drawing a firm line down the middle of my youth, this critical moment outlined one truth for me – I had a CHOICE. This new reality paved for me a crossroads, which way was I going to turn? Down the treacherous road of anger, fear and victimhood? Or, finding the rich silver lining of opportunity & personal growth. What was I going to make of this situation? I chose to grow and move on. I also chose to see what all the trauma TAUGHT me.
A Chance Meeting: Zimbabwean Uber Driver
Because of overcoming my own adversity, I am drawn to the people who have beaten the odds in their circumstances and draw inspiration from their stories. Today on my way home from giving a talk about raising confident kids by finding our own sense of selves and worthiness, I had a chat with my Uber driver. His name is Shepherd, an expat from Zimbabwe with a traumatic childhood, just like mine.
Shepherd moved to South Africa in 2006 with no friends, family or money, out of shear desperation. The first thing he did [the only choice he had] was stand at street corners begging for money. ONE person offered him a job and shelter. He took it, appreciated it, worked hard, learned more, gained more, saved, and got out of poverty.
Years later, he is a father himself and decided long ago that the narrative for his son's life would be different to the one he had experienced growing up. He is a successful Uber driver who provides for his family and has created a happy home for his family. We spoke, at length, about the CHOICES we all have to thrive, despite our circumstances and past.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
Time and time again, I find myself at a new crossroads. In life and in business. I now know that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity, because we always have a choice.
I've also learned in both life and business, that FAILING TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL. In determining our choices, we are allowed the opportunity to figure out the HOW. Many people avoid asking themselves the “how”? This is because fear and our inner critique often get in the way – disguised as self-doubt. “How can I achieve ALL THAT” we ask ourselves? Standing at the base of a huge mountain, it is easy to look to the top and give up.
How do you combat this? Reverse engineer.
Want to run a marathon, but you’re only able to run 1 KM? Easy. Determine how many days you have available to train, build on what you know with the time you have. This is how you come up with a plan.
We all know by now that ROME wasn’t built in a day. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon himself, says “All overnight successes take about 10 years.” I bet you Pam Golding would have to agree with this as well… get where I am going?
In every difficult situation you have a CHOICE and an opportunity. How you CHOOSE is the beginning of your plan. HOW you finally achieve the goal is your plan reverse engineered in a way that works for your trajectory.
Decide today to find opportunity in the face of difficulty and establish a plan to get you to your goal.