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Turn Every Challenge Into An Opportunity

Kimberly Lewis - As Seen On Forbes

Kimberly B. Lewis, Author, Coach, Consultant, President/CEO of Goodwill Industries of East Texas and owner of Motivational Muse, LLC. My oldest daughter asked me a few days ago how I was doing as a leader, with so many challenges hitting all at once. At first, I sighed and then I laughed. I told her that I'm actually doing fabulous — things are really popping for me. I explained that although there have been many challenges this year, both personally and professionally, I've thrived. I'm 60% optimistic and 40% realistic. I believe it's important to see the challenges, but instead of crumbling under the pressure, dig beneath the muck and mire and create opportunities.  As a business or nonprofit leader, you can spend days, months and even years stuck in worry. Or you can look for one thing that will change your circumstances. Instead of giving yourself 10 reasons why something won't work, just give yourself one of how it can work and try that. If it doesn't work, then come up with one more way that it can work, until you run out of options. Business and nonprofit leaders in particular can benefit from this mindset to further drive their missions.  Earl Nightingale, author and popular radio host in the 1950s, is quoted as saying, "We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take change and rule our lives from within." I am confident that this positive outlook, mixed with determination and sound judgment can help nonprofit or business leaders achieve their goals. So, I challenge you to think of one thing that you can do immediately to push your goals forward and then do it. 

I know what you might be thinking — "My goal takes money and I don't have it." My response is for you to start with a plan to save, borrow or earn the money you need to fund your goal. Taking a page from this book, you might make a list of 20 ideas to accomplish your goals. Do this daily at least for five days — that's 100 ideas. Surely one will be a winner. If your goal is to build a new bu

ilding for your organization or business, or to buy a house, start by making a list of what you want your new offices or house to look like. Where do you want it to be located? Cut out photos from magazines or download images from the internet and tape them to your vision board or in your vision or dream journal. This creates a visual image of your goal.

I've personally found success with this determined visualization practice. Years ago, I wanted a bigger home despite what my bank account looked like. I started driving through nice neighborhoods and took note of various things that I liked about those homes. I taped photos of house plans with large wraparound porches to my vision board. Simultaneously, I began to pay off credit cards and sock away extra dollars into my savings account. Six years later, through determination, I was sipping on sweet tea in my beautiful home with the wraparound deck.

I practice this same method in business, and this year we completed the remodel of our 1975 headquarters, complete with a new technology center. A few years ago we had planned to build a new building so we purchased a lot and had an architect draw up plans. We decided not to build, but instead renovate our existing building. Nonetheless, I would look at these plans and the architect renderings often as I worked to raise the money for the building, visualizing each office setting and the people we would help. 

As we continued to grow our revenue to serve our mission through new fundraising campaigns, grants, fee-for-service business lines and partnerships, new opportunities arose and the vision shifted again. This experience showed me that consistent focus and action can lead to incredible results. Business and nonprofit leaders alike can achieve great success through such determination and intentions. 

Based on my experience, here are a few tips to smash challenges and create opportunities:

1. Explore what services you provide that others would benefit from, like IT or backroom accounting services.  2. Look at the skills and strengths of each team member and create a service or product around that skillset, such as event planning for other companies. 3. Remember that the glass is neither half full or half empty — it's refillable. So don't accept defeat. Keep trying and push past the fear of failure. 4. Add business innovation to your strategic plan and measure it to keep you and your team focused on creative innovation. Review your plan at least quarterly to track your progress.  The main reason that many people don't succeed is that they don't take immediate action on an idea. Time passes, and they allow doubt and fear to creep in, and they talk themselves out of even trying. When doubt and fear creep into your mind and you allow it to sit (without disarming it with action), it can paralyze your creativity. Despite today's challenges, you can use your creative powers, determination to succeed and consistent goal-shattering practices to turn every challenge into an opportunity.

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