Question: Some entrepreneurs seem to be able to take an unexpected and difficult situation and turn it into success. How do they do it?

Answer: The skill to which you are referring is very simply the ability to adapt to a particular situation. And as with so many other things in life, it all starts with mindset. Have you ever created a plan that didn’t work perfectly when implemented? How did you feel? I can remember times in the past when I would become very upset and frustrated when my carefully crafted plan seemed to go up in flames. Other people always messed things up for one reason or another.

Recently we had an historic building we wanted to develop but needed a state agency to approve affordable housing tax credits in order to move forward. We submitted the project twice to the state agency and both times did not win an award. Of course this was immensely frustrating and we very easily could have given up and moved on to another project. Instead, we figured out a different (and even more complicated) structure for the deal and have been able to put the train back on the track, so to speak.

Being adaptable means having a mindset of flexibility. But there’s one more element that really unlocks the secret. It requires being able to anticipate that when something goes awry, it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to be creative, change direction – slightly or a lot – and make things even better than originally foreseen. I’ve reached the point where I expect to have such opportunities. This isn’t negative thinking by any stretch. Instead it’s a mindset of looking for ways to improve upon a situation. When something isn’t working quite right that’s a signal to me that there’s a better way.

You’ve probably seen the kids’ toys called Transformers. The basic premise is a toy that transforms from a seemingly mundane robot into a much more powerful object. Optimus Prime was the original hero in the Transformers franchise – a robot that transforms into a Kenworth truck cab containing a powerful ion blaster. Sounds silly, right? But that’s exactly what we entrepreneurs want to have happen. We want our good ideas to transform into great ideas. Sometimes this takes some twisting and turning, but eventually we prevail.

Problems lead to solutions. But be careful what you believe for what you believe creates the world in which you live. If you believe that problems are an opportunity to adapt and improve, your world will be filled with outcomes that are better than you ever imagined.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Optimus Prime

1 thought on “Transformers

  1. Excellent points here. In the software business we put a high value on disruptive innovation and I think in many ways this sums up that Transformer mindset you reference. Often unplanned change creates opportunities that necessitate innovation, being prepared for the unexpected is the only way to truly be prepared.

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