Opportunity doesn’t always come to us in pretty packages gifted by others. Sometimes we have to create our own opportunity out of adversity. Today I’ll introduce you to the macaques of Gibraltar and Villefrance, France.
Opportunity: Making the Most Out of an Unwanted Situation
The macaques on Gibraltar have a thriving colony of around 250 members, but it didn’t start out that way.
The original settlers of Gibraltar brought the macaques over from northern Africa as pets. When they became unruly, the settlers released monkeys into the wild to fend for themselves.
Imagine: strange climate, unknown food sources, no shelter to speak of – it’s enough to make anyone want to give up!
But they didn’t. The macaques learned, they figured things out, and now they thrive. They are even a top tourist attraction!
What situation are you facing that you didn’t ask for but have to figure out anyway?
I had one a couple of weeks ago when the screen on my laptop shattered. No kidding, I did nothing. I was using it on my bed (yes, I know, BAD, Coryne!) and set it down when I left the room. When I came back, kaboom!, the laptop screen was broken and unusable. It’s only two months old, but Dell’s warranty would not cover it. BOO!
It angered and frustrated me. NOW, what am I going to do? Will I lose all my stuff on my computer? Do I repair or replace? What do I do until then?
And yet, it all worked out. I purchased it on my American Express card, which had purchase protection. They refunded me the cost of the laptop and I purchased a new one (not the same model!) and I love it. It’s better than the last one and hopefully will last longer.
The leadership lesson here is to find that silver lining when life hands you lemons (I love mixed metaphors!} Stuff will always happen, it’s up to us to channel our inner macaque and learn, figure things out, and thrive.
Opportunity: Incentives Can Help Overcome Fear
The photo above is taken from the fortress that sits above Villefranche. It was built as a lookout for pirates. The people of Villefranche signaled to Nice, the city next door, if pirates were spotted.
The problem was that no one wanted to live in Villefranche, because they were being invaded by pirates all the time!
So France decided to offer a little incentive to people to come live there. If you lived in Villefranche, you didn’t have to pay taxes.
Now that was an opportunity!
How many people put aside their fear of pirates so they could live tax free?
Turns out a lot.
The village boomed after that and, like the macaques, the people learned how to deal with marauding pirates.
What opportunity is presenting itself to you right now, that causes you a little fear but has the potential for huge gains?
I have a client who is trying to decide whether to change jobs. She’s busy and likes her colleagues, but the actual work is dreadfully boring. What’s stopping her is fear of the unknown.
- “What if the new job is terrible?” she asks.
- “What if the new job is amazing?” I respond.
- “What if my new coworkers are horrible?” she asks.
- “What if you meet a new BFF?” I respond.
The leadership lesson here is to not let fear of the unknown stop you from making a change. You could end up living in the south of France!
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: When I asked the tour guide what the villagers did when they saw pirates, he said “They ran into the hills and hid until they left!” Could there be any more French of an answer?