(By Kevin Daum)
“Nothing looks worse than overselling your knowledge, expertise, or abilities, only to be incompetent when the opportunity occurs. Before you pursue big opportunities, do a self-assessment. Be as unflinchingly honest and critical as you can about your readiness. Consider whether you have the current skills and knowledge to give the quality that is merited, and if you don’t, either figure out what it takes to develop them or let the opportunity go.“
People live in hopeful expectation. Most dream of big opportunities coming their way. It could be the big brand that wants to partner or the corner office job opening up, or maybe it’s the call from the Today show. People picture the rewards, the recognition, and the adrenaline rush of a challenge. But for so many, the big opportunities come, and they blow it. They weren’t prepared.
It seems a bit ridiculous. Why pursue your big shot at success without preparing for the reality? Perhaps it’s because you don’t truly believe it’s possible? That’s a poor excuse for dropping the ball in the end zone. If the big opportunity comes and you can’t recognize it or manage it, you’ll let people down and potentially damage your reputation. And you’ll probably never see that same opportunity again.
The only thing worse than not getting great opportunities is blowing them when you don’t have to. Prepare yourself with these questions that help assess your readiness for a great opportunity.
1. Do you have the infrastructure/resources?
Many dream of getting the big TV spot or viral article that will gain them instant fame. It sounds great, but the results can be so overwhelming that your website might crash, or your infrastructure won’t be able to handle the customer traffic. If you are working on something big, you need to make sure that you have the proper tools in place to get it done. That means readying people and processes that can flex to support the size of the opportunity. You don’t have to do it all yourself; partners and contractors can absorb the growth while you build to catch up. Set aside a cash reserve for when that big order comes in so you can fund the expansion.
2. Do you have the skill?
Nothing looks worse than overselling your knowledge, expertise, or abilities, only to be incompetent when the opportunity occurs. Before you pursue big opportunities, do a self-assessment. Be as unflinchingly honest and critical as you can about your readiness. Consider whether you have the current skills and knowledge to give the quality that is merited, and if you don’t, either figure out what it takes to develop them or let the opportunity go.
3. Do you have the time?
An excess of other commitments will interfere with your ability to deliver. Your focus and efforts will not be efficient if they are divided in too many places. Are you willing to put aside other ventures and activities for this opportunity? You might need to close out other pursuits or wind down some relationships to make room for the big time.
4. Do you have the team?
Big opportunities need support. As a leader, you need to assess your team members’ level of preparedness, too. They should be aligned in the pursuit, well informed, eager. You don’t need everyone to be excited too soon, but you do need buy-in to get your people to put aside time from their current tasks while betting on what’s to come. Make sure you provide them the training to build their confidence and belief in their capability.
5. Do you have the commitment?
Your head has got to be in the game to truly take advantage of an opportunity. Many opportunities sound good until the reality of what they require comes into full view. Do your homework. Explore what the opportunity really means. My personal example is my new radio show. I knew that committing every Saturday would mean no long travel for at least a year. Decide what you are truly willing to give up to make those big dreams come true.