When I was being trained to drive for the police service - I learned a new method of driving safely - regardless of the situation.
Instead of focusing heavily on the vehicles around me - I was taught to 'look for the empty spaces'. This forced me to look for escape opportunities in case an emergency presented itself - or another driver made a move that jeopardized my safety.
This was a bit foreign to begin with - because it is much more natural to focus on what is going on around me - not looking for what is "not" going on!
Thinking this way became contagious for me. I began to look for 'opportunities' or empty spaces an many place in my life - and in business it has proven to be very beneficial.
Those of us who run businesses often are focused on problem solving. We focus on how things are not woring and attempt to make them work better. We look at the customers we are not reaching, or we look for the sales we are missing. And while we do this - we often miss the open spaces - the areas where an opportunity is just waiting for us.
Here is a case in point. I recently read and article written by Marcia Barhydt - reporting on a large 'lego - man' replica that had washed up on a beach in Florida. (read it here)
To the onlookers it was an interesting thing to look at - but the city officials say it as a "BIG" seven foot problem and allocated resources to have the figure removed from the beach. They missed the opportunity.
How often does a 'Lego - man' wash up on your beach. Never? Exactly!
Is it problem? It all depends how you look at it. The way I see it - this Florida town missed a huge marketing opportunity. Had they celebrated the occurrence they could have received tons of free publicity for the town.
In fact they could have used the opportunity to permanently secure the 'Lego - Man' to the beach and erected a plaque entitled "The day Lego Man washed up on our beach". Or they could have determined the home town of 'Leg - Man' and formed an alliance with the town - a sort of sister town - and invited residents of 'Lego - Man's' town to come visit. The opportunities to gain free publicity and use this occurrence to benefit the town were endless.
What is going on in your business that you currently see as a problem? Sitting right beside the problem is an opportunity just waiting to be activated. Is there a lot going on around you? Most certainly there is if you are a business owner. The important thing to focus on however - is what is NOT happening. What are you missing?
Think of it as driving. Instead of focusing on the cars around you - take a moment to look for the open spaces just begging for new ideas and activities. (yes - become an opportunist!)