The greater the problem; the bigger the opportunity. Especially true in business, this truism also applies to any life situation.
Helen Keller had neither hearing nor sight, yet developed heightened sensitivity for other senses. Her memory and thinking prowess were unusually highly developed as a result of her physical problems.
Job of biblical fame lost all, yet through his losses came to a greater appreciation of whom he was serving. Pushing through the pain, he grappled with his loss, pain and his own humanity to a point that his various problems (including his friends) became the impetus to some of the clearest and meaningful worship found in the Scriptures.
Samoa too has suffered recently at the hands of nature. I came to Samoa in a large part due to the impact of the 2009 Tsunami on tourism and I share the pain of the Samoan tourist operators who still struggle with a difficult market. These are definitely problems, but it takes a unique mindset to view problems as an opportunity.
We have to remove ourselves emotionally from the current situation and think strategically. Whenever there is a disaster, such as a tsunami or cyclone, negative press is generated. While this publicity may appear to be another disaster compounding the first, in fact if we view the glass as half FULL rather than half EMPTY, we become aware of increased opportunity. Negative press actually generates goodwill. The greater the disaster and exposure; the greater the goodwill generated.
For example I estimate that the 2009 Tsunami generated a billion dollars of negative press over a three week period as every paper, TV and radio news broadcast on the planet ran stories along the lines of “Paradise Lost”. Speak the word Samoa in any non-rugby nation and you’ll only hear the word Tsunami in response for the next decade!
Spending millions of dollars in marketing Samoa as a South Pacific Island Paradise, going head-on against the incumbents Fiji, the Gold Coast or Bali misses the enormous opportunity and is a strategy of bureaucrats and not strategists. Goodwill exists in ample measure and systems should be established to tap into and benefit from that goodwill. People will come to help and invest into Samoa in many different ways if we truly understand the opportunity and give them the opportunities to do this.
A large part of the SWAP Foundation’s work in Samoa is to develop those systems and tap into the various Voluntourism markets, believing that goodwill is and will be at record high levels for some years to come. We believe with a passion that opportunity comes from adversity.
When facing an adversary, be it in business or in private life, identify his strengths and find ways to use them against him. Exponents of some martial arts understand that a smaller nimbler contestant can out manoeuvre a larger opponent and use his own force against himself. People who are proud or greedy are especially easy to counter, as their ego makes them vulnerable, or their greed makes them targets.
Years ago American entrepreneur Jay Abraham established his brand Guerilla Marketing, and he advised, motivated and trained small businesses on how a small guy could take on the larger guys. His well-proven business concepts always view problems as opportunities. There are thousands of ways to take or create opportunities, especially in times of adversity.
Jesus was very effective at this and adeptly turned accusers upon each other by generating division; countering questions designed to ensnare with questions of His owned that exposed the accusers.
What is your biggest problem? That is certain to be your biggest opportunity.