What Could Possibly Go Right?

There’s not a lot of good news these days. The unemployment rate has hit another high, over 70% of people are not happy with the job they have, and millions have lost their jobs with little prospects of getting anything more than part-time work. Gas
prices are going up again, welfare rolls are burgeoning, the education system is broken and the onerous costs of Obamacare has brought business investments to a halt. And that’s just what’s happening in the USA! Do you want me to list all the things that could go wrong in the rest of the world? I didn’t think so.

The list of what could possibly go wrong is endless – and hopeless. To plan what to do when you lose your job is to plan to lose your job. To complain about how bad things are is to miss out on how good things could be. To whine about how bad your past has been is to lose sight of your future.

Some time ago I knew guy who always looked at the dark side of life. He never saw the sunshine – only the clouds. He told me that he had “enough money to run my business for only another three years and then I’ll be broke. Don’t know what I’ll do then!” He had that “if anything can possibly go wrong it will” syndrome. I stopped hanging out with him for fear I too would get the disease.

In these confusing and difficult times, those who outlive the storms to see the sunshine will be those who are looking for the sunshine, not those who are afraid to get wet.

A business friend called me last week to complain about his sales. In his frustration he asked, “How am I supposed to survive when nobody is buying my products?”

I did not have the kind of answer he wanted. He wanted me to tell him to do this and that and then your sales will hit an all-time high and you’ll be the businessman of the year, you’ll pay of all your creditors and cut your mortgage in half! I wish I were that smart.

Here’s what I told him, “Look for the opportunity.” I explained to him that in every down market someone is making money and it’s not the person who is curled up in the fetal position hiding in a closet hoping against hope that somehow the storm will quickly pass by.

Those who prosper in downtimes are those who seek opportunities and look for advantages. They ignore the bad news and ask persistently, “What could possibly go right? Where is the advantage? What is the hidden opportunity?” The point is, you will only get the right answers if you ask the right questions.

Think about it, you don’t even want to know all that could possibly go wrong. It’s too depressing. You want to know what could go right! That’s what’s enlightening, that’s where solutions are found. Not in the nasty negativity of problem-focused thought but in the energizing, spirit lifting, hope inducing, life giving positive search for what could possibly go right.

So, for the next several months in this column I will ask again and again, “What could possibly go right?” You are invited to join the search for the advantage, the hunt for hidden opportunity. Together we will not only weather the storm, we’ll be the ones basking in the sunshine while the faint of heart will still be peeking out of their hiding spaces wondering if it’s finally safe to reappear.

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