A few days ago, during a routine parking attempt, I was trying to steer clear of a number of stationary targets, a wall and various other cars. Unfortunately a pillar “jumped out of nowhere” and like a slow motion kung-fu movie, my ears where met with the sounds of horror as my front bumper was being torn off.
You go through all the sets of emotions in a matter of seconds -WTF? surprise, anger, despair, relief, disbelief and feeling somewhat stupid. But I had a few things to do and needed to make a plan fast. The bumper looked bad and I knew there would be the risk that if I drove, more damage would be done. But I really, really needed to go.
Thinking how to solve the problem, I was eliminating various ideas like a talent scout flicking through photos of everything, except for what they wanted. Duct tape? really… an unlikely candidate presented itself. My mind began to wonder about the idea of patching and instant repair and of having never attempting something like this before. A new experience… an opportunity!
Feeling proud of my handy-work, moved on and got the things done that I needed to get done. However, there was the dreaded insurance call to make. I tried putting this off, imagining the worst, delaying the call, hesitation had set in.
I had heard other stories of great people who had even greater unexpected experiences and turned things around. For example Thomas Edison had a factory loss due to fire and seeing this as an opportunity to start it over, his company did more in profit the following year than they did the previous year (thanks Ken Lund for the photo).
Another example is of the band Sonic Youth (unassuming, great band which had major influences on others), they had their musical instruments stollen whilst on tour! They used this as an opportunity to further develop their sound (thanks Rodger Bridges for the photo).
So this got me thinking, what opportunity can be gained from moving forward? How can I think differently about the set of circumstances? As I started thinking about the opportunities, an amazing thing happened. My mind started imagining how great it would be to understand how this insurance situation works, how the car would be repaired, all the logistic factors like getting the car to the garage, would there be a replacement car? What would the various people be like in dealing with the solution?
On and on my mind went, so eventually I just made the call. To my surprise the person on the other end was the most friendliest I had spoken to, the situation was explained in less than 5 minutes and surprisingly a fast resolution would take place. Unbelievably simple and pleasant.
It seems very apparent to me, that we can learn how to deal with situations differently, by first thinking about them differently… and maybe there is opportunity in every situation (thanks Morgen Bell for the photo).
Do you have a similar situation where you saw opportunity in a “bad” situation? It would be great to hear from you. Post yours or link to your blog post in the comments below.