Recognizing Opportunities

“It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path.”Michael Dell

Ever been in a situation where something happened and you snapped, “how didn’t I see this opportunity” or “I can’t believe I missed this opportunity”. You never intended to miss the opportunity, you only didn’t recognize it was an opportunity until someone took the chance.

It happens to almost everyone. As much as we can discern most opportunities, some of them are hidden in the complexities of problems that we could marginally see the chances.

Opportunities are openings or chances for something positive to happen, but you’ll need to claim them for yourself!
They usually arise from situations outside your organization and require an eye to what might happen in the future. They might arise as developments in the market you serve, or in the technology you use. Mostly, opportunities come disguised as a problems. For instance, The famous inventor Thomas Edison. Edison realised that the problem with Swan’s design was the filament. A thin filament with high electrical resistance would make a lamp practical because it would require only a little current to make it glow and so he created a completely functional lighting system, including a generator and wiring as well as a carbon-filament bulb.

Netflix was founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in a small California city called Scotts Valley, in Santa Cruz county. According to Reed Hastings, the idea was sparked by a $40 fine he got for renting the movie Apollo 13 from long-dead Blockbuster and returning it six weeks late.

These and other inventions were sparked by opportunities people saw in problems they have experienced. There are so many things that are not working in the system that you feel would be better if only this or that was invented. That right there is the opportunity in that problem you have faced.

The first way to recognize opportunities is that they come disguised as problems. So, every time you complain about something, you must think of structures that could be put in place to ease that situation. Recognising opportunity is a cognitive process. It relies on the ability of people to recognise patterns and connect the dots. People can make the links between the dots using their prior knowledge and experience. In doing so, they can link them to problems or to needs they or people around them have.

The following story clearly illustrates the meaning of identifying opportunities (as they come disguised as problems)

The story is about two businessmen coming to a new continent to sell shoes. 

Half an hour later, they both call their wives. 

One says: My dear wife, don’t worry, tomorrow I’m getting on the plane back to you. No one here wears shoes. They’re all barefoot. 

The other says: My dear wife, I am very sorry, but I will not be able to return in the coming year, there is a fantastic opportunity to sell shoes here, everyone goes barefoot.

In essence, what one man saw as a problem, the other businessman saw as an opportunity. Imagine how many times you have complained about a product or service; maybe that the product doesn’t really serve its purpose or that the packaging is low-quality or something entirely different. That could have been a great opportunity to invent a better product that serves its purpose in that regard.

Some of the world’s most famous smartphones and computers began in the garage of two young men who saw the opportunity to provide smaller personal computers to ordinary people instead of simply meeting the needs of big corporations. Today, we see that brand, Apple, everywhere.

Another way to recognise opportunities is to identify trends. Ideas for projects can also arise from identifying trends. It is advised to be attentive and aware of our surroundings. Sometimes, as an outcome of being alert to the surroundings, we can identify the beginning of trends that hadn’t yet received any attention from the mass media like in the era of face masks. Some fashion houses recognized the trend as an opportunity to showcase their creativity and they jumped on it. From Luxurious fashion houses who made face masks covered in diamonds to the street tailors who made face make with Ankara. These are examples of recognising opportunities through current trends. 

The ability to recognize trends in time and leverage them can lead to great success.

Also, opportunities could lie in other people’s inventions or businesses or crafts. What new ways can you do something better than it already is? What product or business do you think is not up to par and you have generated ideas to make it better? That is exactly how competition is born. We have varieties of the same products and companies offering similar services because one saw an opportunity to do something better than the existing market. The cycle is unending.

Opportunity recognition is actually a process that’s found in the way that individuals and businesses with an entrepreneurial mindset approach new business ventures or ideas. In many ways, it is a constant brainstorming in which individuals look for ”new and improved ways” of addressing problems. It could be a brand new business idea or even new products or services that fulfil customers’ needs and expectations.

Opportunity is everywhere. The key is to develop the vision to see it.

The Dangers of Overconfidence Bias

Have you ever considered yourself to be overly confident in your abilities? Have you ever believed so much in your skills and knowledge to get through something even with little to no information or understanding about the task in question?

Are you the type of person to go on a trip without a map and also refuse to ask for directions even if you got lost on your way? Or are you the type who wouldn’t study for tests, thinking you’re so smart that you don’t really have to study?

Or maybe you are the employee who thinks you are invaluable to your employer and as a result show overconfidence by coming in late to work because you think you are so irreplaceable? Or you are part of a team that always won a game hence you fail to prepare for the next one because you think your team would win regardless?

If you are any of the aforementioned or you are overconfident in other areas I didn’t mention, you are definitely doing yourself more harm than you think.

We can never reach a stage where we can say, I know everything, and I have nothing more left to learn. There’s always going to be a new technique, strategy, or method to learn, and overconfidence is sheer ignorance.

Overconfidence is called “the most significant of the cognitive biases”. The most damaging of biases that affect an individual is overconfidence. This bias is a person’s tendency to hold a false and misleading assessment of their skills, intellect, or talent. In other words, the tendency to overestimate one’s abilities.

Overconfidence bias can cause people to experience problems because it may keep them from properly preparing for a situation or may cause them to get into a dangerous situation they are not equipped to handle.
Imagine the time when you did not prepare for a contest because you have been the champ 5 times in a row and then ended up losing or the time you had a deadline to complete some given tasks but you didn’t treat these tasks as urgent because you believed you had some superpowers to work last minute and get the job done but then you couldn’t meet up due to unforeseen last-minute delays.

An article I read in the process of writing this piece asserted that people who purchase lottery tickets as a way to make money are probably suffering from overconfidence bias. It is three times more likely for a person driving 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket to be killed in a car accident than to win the jackpot.

While it is a great attitude to be confident, we must be careful not to be overconfident. Confidence evolves from the realization that failure is a possibility and also that you have the skill to contain the failure. Overconfidence is blind to the dangers of failure and is ill-prepared to handle it when it happens.

An example of overconfidence in history is The Everest Disaster.
In 1996, a group of people attempted to scale the mighty Everest. On their way down, a snowstorm led to the death of eight people. Among the eight casualties were two elite mountaineers who operated as group leaders and had scaled Everest many times before.
During the ascent, the team faced difficulties due to delays and a possible snowstorm. The deadline to reach the summit is 14:00 to complete the descent safely.

Despite the life-threatening conditions, the 2 veteran mountaineers, decided to proceed further in spite of crossing the deadline of 14:00. They were confident of returning home. but unfortunately, the conditions ended as a disaster.

Though other unforeseen reasons played a role in the disaster, the lead mountaineers deciding to exceed the turnaround time of 14:00 was one of the primary ones

Whether you are an expert in your area or a complete newbie, you will always commit mistakes due to overconfidence. Decision making is one area where bias can hit you hard.
You have to be watchful of daily events to spot where you show signs of overconfidence.

One of the dangers of overconfidence bias is a drastic failure. Overconfidence bias may lead clients to make risky investments. Overconfidence will make people lose faith and trust in your abilities and discernment. It will make you doubt yourself and ultimately result in low self-esteem. Overconfidence is a powerful source of illusions, primarily determined by the quality and coherence of the story that you can construct, not by its validity.

To overcome overconfidence, think of the consequences before you act. For example, when you believe you have found the next best stock and decide to put a big sum of money in it, calculate what would happen if you went wrong. When you realize how badly a decision can hurt you, you will have a reality check.

You also need to have an open mind. You need to have an open mind to consider other people’s opinions, fears and concerns. You need to have an open mind to the possibility of making a mistake. That way you are open to the possibilities of making mistakes and the humility to admit your weaknesses. With this, you can make better-informed decisions.

In addition, you need to take time to look at your failures or incidences when you did not achieve some goals you were overconfident about. That way, you will help shape a realistic measure of your abilities and focus on skills and strengths you need to work on.

What areas of your life have you been overconfident and what was the end result?

Share with us in the comments. We always love to read from you.

The Essence of Self-discipline

If you were to genuinely rate your self-discipline on a scale of 1-10, what will it be?

Mine, 7 (and no, it’s not an exaggeration)

Self-discipline is the ability to control your impulses and be able to make yourself do things that need to be done. This can sometimes mean turning down instant gratification in favour of long term gain and satisfaction.
A typical example of self-discipline is refusing to buy a Christian Dior bag rather saving the money to get yourself a laptop to work with or when you wake up an hour earlier before work every day to get to the gym when you have a goal to lose weight.
Self-discipline could be saying no to going to an arcade with your friends so you could stay home and study for your exams, or clearing your table today just so you could have more hours tomorrow to do other productive activities.

What area of your life is suffering due to your lack of self-discipline?

The world loves to shine a light on successful people. They could be athletes, singers or business persons. As much as we love to be like them, I’m however doubtful that we would want to walk the path that led to the success we now admire.
Mostly, success is a result of hard work, and hard work may require you to stay up past midnight every day for years to execute a project. Does that sound like something you could easily do? If No, you are not alone. It requires a level of self-discipline to inculcate such a habit.

Honestly, self-discipline sucks. It’s never fun when you have to maybe put in extra work, practise delayed gratification, turn off the TV after a given leisure hour, stop an unhealthy diet you enjoy, whatever it is, the process of self-discipline sucks. No one ever said it was fun.

Having read about the journies of some successful people, I can say for certain that self-discipline was one trait they all had in common.

According to Brian Tracy, all great success in life is preceded by long, sustained periods of focused effort on a single goal, the most important goal, with the determination to stay with it until it is complete.

Warren Buffett is a man of extraordinary self-discipline. Warren Buffet’s biographer, Alice Schroeder, said, “Buffet ruled out paying attention to almost anything but business — art, literature, science, travel, architecture — so that he could focus on his passion.”

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett agree that focus is the most important factor in their success. They realized that to be massively successful, you must concentrate your attention in one direction — on one goal or project. While you may be able to build proficiency in several areas by multitasking, to truly become an expert in something, you’ll likely need to focus your attention on what it is you want to become an expert in.

Now the big question is, without self-discipline, how do you manage to focus on one goal until you achieve it? How do you manage to keep on with that diet until you lose some weight? How do you manage to focus on your education until you graduate in flying colours?

More than ever, we are certain that self-discipline is a key player in success.

Having the self-discipline to cut out distractions and focus on one task at a time allows you to concentrate your efforts, which can be much more powerful than giving a task only a sliver of your attention.

Your entire life is an ongoing battle between the forces of doing what is right and necessary on the one hand and doing what is fun and easy on the other hand. It is a battle between the forces of discipline and the forces of ease or expediency.

To become more self-disciplined, you need to identify your strength and weaknesses against the goals you want to achieve at a given time.
Whether they’re the desire for alcohol, unhealthy food, obsession over social media, video games, or spending unnecessary hours chitchatting with friends, they have a similar effect on us. Let’s take, for instance, you have a goal to get A’s in your coming examination, but then you have identified one of your weaknesses to be obsession over social media. That means even though you want to become an excellent student, you may not get enough time to study because you are spending most of your time on social media anyway.
Having identified these weaknesses as it affects your goals, you get more clarity on strategies or techniques to deploy to help you deal with your weakness. In this case, it could be as simple as choosing not to subscribe to data bundles on your phone until exams are over or even deleting your social media accounts entirely.

Secondly, get an accountability partner.
An accountability partner will keep regular tabs on you to ensure you’re meeting your expectations and achieving your goals. An accountability partner should be someone you trust to have some level of self-discipline because if that partner does not see the essence and importance of your goal or the distraction you are trying to cut off from, they couldn’t care less if you met your goals or not. Having a great accountability partner means that you’ll always have someone to bring you back on track.

Changing your perception of willpower is also an important factor to aid self-discipline.
When we embrace the mindset of unlimited willpower, we continue to grow, achieve more, and develop mental toughness. It’s the same philosophy as setting “stretch” goals. In short, our internal conceptions about willpower and self-control can determine how disciplined we are. If you can remove these subconscious obstacles and truly believe you can do it, then you will give yourself an extra boost of motivation toward making those goals a reality.

When it comes to success, the essence of self-discipline cannot be overemphasized.
Self-discipline becomes very powerful when combined with goal-setting, passion, and planning. Write down your goals once again and make sure that you do everything in your power to stick to them.

As Jim Rohm said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”

LOYALTY AND WHY IT MATTERS

A couple of times we might have heard loyalty in conversations, given it or desired it. The very popular one is the association of dogs to loyalty because a dog never betrays its owner and always chooses to follow and obey. Loyalty is one very important virtue anyone can possess. It is an admirable personal quality of devotion and steadfastness even under trying circumstances.

Loyalty is when:

1. Your mate or partner stands by you in hard times

2. An employee takes a pay cut to save the company

3. A soldier doesn’t reveal secrets under torture

4. Shoppers repeatedly buy at their favourite store (customer loyalty).

Loyalty is a common literary theme because it is something that all people seek. Military companies, sports teams, and employers actively seek those they feel will be the most loyal to their cause. Of course, people always want to have around people they can trust and completely rely on.

Why is loyalty so extremely important? Loyalty is trust. Relationships are largely based on trust whether or not a certain impression is made. If there is no trust, a relationship will never happen and people are likely to be more cautious. A loyal individual is an important resource for anyone. He is devoted to the legal body, sovereign or government under which he dwells. It includes dutifulness, penance and empathy in human character.

Several stories relate to loyalty and betrayal even in the Bible. When we talk about loyalty, the most striking story is that of Jesus Christ who was tried, suffered and was crucified yet he did not deny God or abort his mission to save mankind. There are also stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or that of Paul & Silas who suffered for their faith and belief yet chose to be loyal. On the contrary, there’s a story of Judas Iscariot who betrayed his master for some 30 pieces of silver. While this story is now comical and used as memes, Imagine the traumatic effect betrayal would have on you especially when you have established some level of trust or believe that they should reciprocate your loyalty with loyalty.

Loyalty is the most important aspect of any relationship, be it a romance, a friendship or a business relationship. Loyalty makes you identifiable. It helps you know where you belong and helps people identify you for something. If you are mostly on the fence and neither here nor there, you should learn to fix your loyalty as in the story of the birds and the beasts.

Once war broke out between the birds and the beasts. Many battles were fought one after the other. If now the birds got the upper hand, the next time beasts were successful. The bats played a very treacherous role in this war. They never threw their lot with either of the two sides. They followed the policy of swimming with the flowing tide. They sided with whichever side got the better of the other. Thus they were changing their loyalty from side to side. Neither side paid any attention to the bats till the war lasted. But when it was over, the bats didn’t know which side to go. At first, they went to the birds. But they refused to own them as many birds had seen them fight for the beasts.

When you are not loyal, no one is sure where what and who to associate you with. While you think that is not any of your business, you are losing your identity and wouldn’t earn loyalty from anybody. Imagine having a friend who talks at your back or divulges your secret to a third party, or an employee who shares company confidential information with the company’s competitor, imagine a partner who is with you and then with someone else when you are not there. What thrives without loyalty? Simply nothing. Nothing is nobler, nothing more venerable, than loyalty.

For your business to be successful, you sure need a team of loyal people. For your relationship to thrive, you need a loyal partner, for anything at all to work, you need to have people you can trust and trust isn’t established until loyalty is proven. Without the presence of loyalty, strong relativity can never be built.

Let’s consider customer loyalty. When you have loyal customers, they do your marketing for you, referring their friends and family to you in droves. When you have loyal customers, they won’t switch to your competitor, even when your competitor is perceived as offering a better product or a lower cost.Morning Consult asked 6,600 customers which brands they’re most loyal to, and Coca-Cola came in at number 8 on the list (Walmart and Amazon were numbers 1 and 2, respectively). While there are other sodas out there, like store brands or Pepsi, Coca-Cola drinkers are most loyal to their brand. In fact, there are several memes about customers being frustrated with being asked, “Is Pepsi okay?” when they order a Coke.

Needless to say, loyalty is very important wherever it should be applied. Just as in the law of reciprocity, you will need to be loyal to demand loyalty.

Questions to ask yourself: Are you a loyal boss?Are you a loyal partner?Are you a loyal friend?Are you a loyal team member?Are you a loyal family member?What does loyalty mean to you as a partner, friend, employer, parent? An article by gbscorporate defines employee loyalty as an umbrella term for a set of emotions that make employees feel attached to their current employer and less likely to see greener grass elsewhere but as an employee, what does loyalty mean to you? Does it mean the employee is not speaking negatively about your company or team? Or, does it simply mean not accepting a better paying job if the opportunity arose?

Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section.

The Best Ways To Quit On Bad Habits.

Habits are a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. The positive Psychology defines it as rituals and behaviours that we perform automatically, allowing us to carry out essential activities such as brushing our teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed for work, and following the same routes every day without thinking about them.

Think about your habits. The things that you subconsciously do because you have created a pattern of behaviour around them.

I have a habit of taking a nap when I feel overwhelmed. It has so happened that if I try to overstretch myself and not take that nap, I could become unwell. Some people have a habit of sleeping through movies. This is because they find it difficult to easily fall asleep without watching movies. Some people have a habit of smoking to relieve stress etc.

What makes your actions become a habit is the repetitive factor. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 per cent of our behaviours on any given day.

Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits. How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits. How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.

There are good habits as well as bad habits. These habits once they have been formed become difficult to get rid of. Breaking a habit isn’t as simple as merely deciding to stop a certain behaviour, though that’s a great start. It takes time and dedicated effort to get rid of old habits.

A wealthy businessman was worried about his son’s bad habits. He sought counsel from a wise, old man. The old man met the man’s son and took him out for a stroll. They walked into the woods, and the old man showed the boy a small sapling and asked him to pull it out. The boy did so with ease, and they walked on.

The old man then asked the boy to pull out a small plant. The boy did that too, with a little effort. As they walked, the old man asked the boy to pull out the bush, which he did. The next was a small tree, which the child had to struggle a lot to pull out. Finally, the old man showed him a bigger tree and asked the child to pull it out.

The child failed to pull it out even after trying several times, in different ways. The old man looks at the boy, smiles and says, “So is the case with habits, good or bad”.

Have you identified the bad habits you have and want to change? Some people say it only takes 21 days to break a habit — you’ve probably heard this estimate before.
Others suggest it often takes a lot longer, sometimes as long as several months.
There’s no hard-and-fast time frame since the length of time it takes to break a habit can depend on a lot of highly personal factors like consistency.

Breaking bad habits can be difficult for the simple reason that it is a pattern that we are already used to and get instant gratification from. However, identifying your triggers helps know where the bad habits come from. Identifying the triggers behind your habitual behaviours is the first step in moving past them.
For instance, if you want to stop procrastinating and meet deadlines. You might take time to realize that the reason you procrastinate is that you spend your time on NETFLIX series and then the gratification you get from the movies make you postpone important tasks. This is one trigger that you’ve identified. Reducing the time you spend watching movies will help you focus on productive tasks.

You might have an easier time breaking a habit if you replace the unwanted behaviour with new behaviour, instead of simply trying to stop the unwanted behaviour.

Research has shown that replacing unwanted behaviours with other activities is an effective way to break a bad habit. Clench your fists instead of biting your nails, or go for a short run rather than smoke a cigarette. Try to understand what needs your bad habit satisfied and then meet those needs with a healthier activity.

Another important thing to adopt when getting rid of bad habits is Consistency. Your bad habits won’t automatically go away because you have practised a substitute good habit for 2 days. Just as much time as it took to form the bad habits, repetition of the substitute good habit is important to completely erase the bad ones.

Throughout our lives, we’ve all developed behaviours or routines that have not served us well in our quest for happiness or success, and maybe it’s about time we got rid of them.

According to Warren Buffet, “bad habits are like chains that are too light to feel until they are too heavy to carry”.

A change in bad habits leads to a change in life.