making America great thru opportunities
“National honor is the national property of the highest value.”
“Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”
Peter F. Drucker
Well. In honoring America on July 4th I want to take a minute or two and share some thoughts on moving forward (progress). Not about making America great again, but rather what has always made America great — a land of opportunity and not a land of solely results. Semantics? Maybe. But an important one.
Opportunities is about reaching for what could be and within that resides a good dose of failure or ‘lack of results.’
Opportunities are to be explored with no guarantee other than an opportunity for good results.
Opportunities are to be explored as ‘possibilities’; not guarantees. And those are the types of things that make a country great … not just winning or results, but rather exploration of what could be.
It is the journey of opportunity.
Look. I admit.
That said. I know in my heart of hearts that exploiting opportunities is the key to business success, but in the day to day grind, especially if you enjoy solving problems, you can get focused on “boy, I sure had a good day because I solved a lot of problems.”
It is natural because problem/solution reflects tangible, almost immediate, pleasure & satisfaction and some clear identifiable outcomes.
Opportunities are less tangible and more hopeful. And if you have ever run a business … well, unfortunately, day to day business cannot run solely on hope. Yet, true leadership is more often than not defined by providing opportunities to those who seek, and need them, the most.
It seems like on this July 4th, this America 244th birthday, we would do well to remember this.
Regardless. My biggest issue with most politicians is a general lack of understanding of business and how it applies to how a government & country can be managed.
Now. That said. I continue to believe a business person, with no government experience, can never successfully manage a country. So while a lifetime politician will always struggle to understand the underlying attitudes and behaviors of a successful business, a business person cannot simply apply business learnings to actually running a country.
In my mind I believe someone who understands attitudes & behaviors & motivations is one most likely to be a successful leader. And this doesn’t mean understanding anger or frustration, but rather what motivates, inspires and makes people move rather than stand and bitch. In fact, leadership doesn’t mean standing around, or at some podium, blaming all the problems America has on ‘other people’ and shouting at the top of your lungs saying “I can solve these problems.”
Most likely instead of pointing out the problems, we should seek the opportunities that exist <and there are a shitload> and explain how to exploit them.
Shit. The founding fathers of America did just that.
They didn’t sit around bitching about problems and wringing their hands over seemingly insurmountable obstacles nor get angry because answers & explanations do not seem to exist or maybe seem unattainable at the moment. They argued over which opportunities represented the best … well … opportunities for the better progress of America.
They didn’t have all the answers, but they certainly knew the objective – identify and exploit opportunities.
“Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”
There will always be questions. And there will always be ‘problems.’ Making something great is most often found in looking at what is and discovering the opportunities and exploit them. Opportunities, let’s be clear, don’t reside in the past.
I can’t bring back jobs … but I can create jobs.
I can’t stop globalization … but I can exploit the opportunities globalization offers.
I can’t recreate a dying industry or dying skills … but I can create new industries with the skills that exist.
I can’t stop terrorism … but I can create the positive country environment which deters people from even wanting to terrorize.
If we, or some leader, creates an environment in which opportunities are exploitable, and exploited by those who are most in need, all the major issues slip away.
I often wonder why instead of bitching about what is ‘holding America back from greatness’ we simply just accept that everything happens for a reason. We may not understand the reason <and, god knows, these days we want to invest more energy bitching about not understanding the reason than we do making progress away from what is happening>, but just accept it and get on with getting on.
Accept the fact there will always be more questions than answers, but you ask the best questions and use the answers to discover the opportunities and exploit them.
Accept the fact that even though things may not be going the way you wanted them to go or the way maybe that it should go … well … opportunities exist <if you look>.
The American dream never resides in the past. The founding fathers had a dream of what could be and the biggest gift they gave us was not any document or law or ruling guidelines — it was the gift of looking forward and not backwards. The gift to shed problems and issues and disagreements by advancing confidently in the direction of what could be.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Henry David Thoreau
Making America great will never have anything to do with building any walls, or breaking up banks, or free college, or dividing people, or gun control, or abortion, or minimum wages, or … well … any issue we seem to invest far too much energy debating.
Crumbling infrastructure? We have an opportunity to build whatever infrastructure we want.
Massive debt? We have an opportunity to cut unnecessary expenses <in the real world this is called “down sizing”>.
Archaic education system? We have an opportunity to throw out the old way and build a completely new way <and this doesn’t mean privatizing education … which is not a real solution>
I could go on and on.
Every supposed “problem” America has represents an opportunity. So maybe instead of running around trying to ‘fix’ all the problems someone should sit down and say “they are what they are … what are the opportunities moving forward?” We should inevitably seize opportunities as a pathway to something better ahead.
Harry S. Truman:
“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still.
Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
Leadership is never about just solving problems — that is simply a different version of ‘standing still.’
They had no interest in standing still but rather moving forward.
That didn’t mean there were not problems nor did it mean they ignored problems, but they recognized the way out of almost every problem and issue was forward, not by fixing, and therefore they sought out opportunities and … well … sought to exploit the existing opportunities to the benefit of a better America.
My wish for year 245 is to stop talking about what is wrong and who has done something wrong and instead talk about all the opportunities that exist. Stop talking about what America is, or isn’t, whether its great or not, and get on with getting on.
Happy July 4th.