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Leaders know to transition from When to What

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It's a natural human tendency to want things to go in our favor, even when we haven't applied due diligence to pursue the outcome. Recall the last time you struggled to get something accomplished or when you had to get something completed but faced issues that threatened to derail your efforts.

Can you recall thinking, when will this end? Verbalize these questions and consider how often you might have used them:

When will the problems stop?

When will this be over?

When will they learn?

When will I get a break?

When will my opportunity come?

When will I get my chance?

So often, the focus is on when hard times, challenges, or struggles will end? I can recall sitting in many meetings called risk mitigation meetings and trying to develop contingency plans for things that might derail a goal. Then, as I grew in leadership, I began to challenge my teams with a new mitigation focus or mindset shift. That added focus or mindset shift was to develop a mitigation plan for the potential derailers and imagine what we might gain if they came true. In other words, a transition from when a problem will end to what opportunities exist while addressing the issue.

In all fairness, I can't say I gained this insight independently. However, I learned how to put it into practice and be mindful of my Positivity Quotient (PQ). Your PQ (Positive Intelligence Quotient, or Positivity Quotient for short) measures the relative strength of your positive versus negative mental muscles. You can learn more about PQ at By increasing my PQ, I have improved my ability to reconsider conditions and impacts that others might see as negative. This perspective helped me take on assignments that others turned down because I could see past the problems and discover possibilities. Take a moment to consider what you might accomplish if you could see beyond the negative? In fact, how might you better address adverse situations that you encounter if you look to discover what opportunities exist due to the adverse conditions?

Rarely does the mere excitement of hardships or adverse situations cause us to rise and get motivated to engage more. But that is precisely the kind of creativity I encourage you to embrace. With this attitude adjustment, I became a better leader. Look, it's indeed a natural response to want challenges to end quickly. But as a leader, I've learned to be thankful for them and, often, the delay they caused in me reaching my ultimate goal. Of course, I can't say that it always worked to my desired outcome, but I can say that I learned more when challenges sharpened and helped to define my thought processes further.

I've always heard the idiom that if you take a million dollars from someone who earned it and ask them to make it again, they could because they know the mechanics of what it took to do so. In other words, when we look to learn from our hardships, difficulties, and derailers, we have an opportunity to improve our initial efforts for the better.

On the surface, looking forward to when derailers will end is not a bad thing from a Leadership perspective. However, looking forward to the end before really grappling with what you can learn from the derailer can be a lost opportunity. So here is your challenge: what steps can you take to transition from when a problem ends to what opportunities might result from the situation?

Finding opportunities during a mess is not always easy, but Leaders know how to transition from when to what. This positive approach may lead you to a new level of creativity and positivity that you never imagined. Try it. Let me know how it works for you. Please post comments at, or you can email me at I would love to hear from you and offer other techniques if you are interested. So now go forth and #LEADPerpetually.

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While thinking through all of the above list of the “When will” the positive feelings of “What opportunities” is refreshing to my human way of thinking. Especially, “What opportunities” that will derive from working with someone else who is thinking “When will”. Together, as humans we can help others that also are thinking “When will”. Thank you for your positive message today.

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