Find the Opportunity, Not the Silver Lining

Confession: I hate silver linings. They usually sound like this: At least you learned something from that failure. At least that person who died isn’t suffering anymore. At least now you know scuba diving isn’t your thing (ask me how I know). 

Silver linings are like a really lame consolation prize for the losers. No thanks. 

I believe in opportunity and finding where the opportunity is in every situation. Opportunity does not mean that A- your circumstances aren’t painful B- you’d rather trade the opportunity for better circumstances and C- it won’t take work to turn the opportunity into something real. 

That’s why I like the idea of finding the opportunity. You can still acknowledge the hard stuff AND launch into something greater than before. 

Even so, I’m sure this sounds cool if your name is Pollyanna or you live in an ivory tower, but what about us normal people?

How does this play out in a practical way? 

Let me give you some examples. 

Remember 2008? That year stunk for the economy. Businesses were failing, the stock market was tanking, unemployment skyrocketed, and as a society we were pretty doom and gloom about the future. 

The recession of 2008 was also when several businesses started, including Groupon, Venmo, Uber, and GV, the venture capital branch of Google. 

Imagine if the founders of those companies had said “We can’t start a business NOW. Better wait and see if things get better!” How different would the world be without the people who saw the opportunity when everyone else saw obstacles? 

Here’s another. I love the show Shark Tank. In a recent episode a woman pitched her little ice cream business. If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank then you know how hard it is to get a deal for a grocery store item. I thought this lady was shark food. I was cringing with anticipation! 

But this lady was prepared. She and her husband own a family farm, and they had a problem. Odd looking fruits and vegetables won’t sell at the market so farmers lose about 25% of their crops to what I like to call food prejudice. Perfectly edible food – and profit- gone to waste. 

So they took that problem and saw an opportunity: they turned the rejected fruits and vegetables into a line of sorbets and ice creams. Not only did they find a use for the produce but they found a way to increase their profits! And yes, they got a deal with a Shark. 

The lesson here is when life gives you lemons, make sorbet when everyone else is making lemonade. 

 

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