If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

Milton Berle

There are many things we cannot control, but are we acting on the small fraction of things that we can control? The saying goes, “the harder you work the luckier you get”. While I don’t believe in luck, I do believe we can take actions to create opportunities – in other words, we can build the doors that lead to them.

In the field of execution, the concept of leading indicators and lagging indicators is critical to tracking progress and momentum. Leading indicators predict future outcomes based on specific inputs or actions taken, while lagging indicators assess current outcomes. Nothing just happens. If you wait to monitor lagging indicators, you are flying blind and should therefore be open to any outcome. Leading indicators are your inputs – you know that by following a certain procedure, you will ultimately experience a certain outcome, irrespective of the time in between. But to keep things on track, to ensure you aren’t waiting in vain, you monitor the timeliness and quality of your inputs to remain confident of your expected outcome. Opportunity sort of works the same way – if opportunity is our target outcome, we must put in the necessary inputs.

In my experience, I have seen three ‘leading indicators’ that create wide open doors to opportunity:

  1. Honor: Demonstrating honor by acknowledging, appreciating, and recognizing people and their achievements, irrespective of their field, status, or background. Honor is an irresistible magnet that attracts people (including customers) to you. This is why customers get excited about receiving a text on their birthday from their service providers – they feel ‘seen’, they feel honored.
  2. Service: Grasp with both hands (and legs) any opportunity you come across to be of service to ‘uncommon’ people. It could be someone you admire, someone who inspires you, or someone who possesses qualities you desire to build. You must train yourself to recognize difference – difference in people, difference in a moment, difference in an organization. When you sense something different, grab it. This action alone has helped me significantly, personally and professionally. Great relationships are built through service.
  3. Compassion: Solving problems for people. One of the biggest leading indicators that opportunity is around the corner is problems.

Dr. Ola Brown, in her review of my recent book, UNLEASH, spoke about ‘smart luck’ – the kind of luck that is within our control and can be influenced through intentional efforts. This is my wish for you in 2024: that you stop waiting for opportunity to arrive and intentionally go out there and create it.

Which of these inputs will you put to use in your life and in your business?

Yours in possibilities,

Topsy Kola-Oyeneyin

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