The Power of Opportunity, Preparedness and Initiative
Leaders are opportunistic. They make the most of any situation because they are prepared to act.
Being “opportunistic” represents the confluence of opportunity, preparedness and initiative. As shared in YOU Are Destined for Greatness, being opportunistic for positive ends is a defining characteristic of achievers.
Being opportunistic is sometimes mistaken as good fortune or luck. Even worse, it’s assigned negative connotations, such as exploiting someone or something.
That does opportunity a disservice. As with most occasions that arise in life, we have a choice as to how we act and react. It can be positive or negative. True leaders see the good in every opportunity.
Just ask Suku Radia. Several years ago, the now-retired CEO of Bankers Trust was asked to lead a committee to bring the LPGA’s Solheim Cup to Des Moines. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Suku convened a “committee of one” and immediately went to work to achieve the goal. He was successful in his pitch. In 2017, the Solheim Cup was played at Des Moines Golf & Country Club in front of record crowds and TV audiences!
But Radia was also opportunistic. When pitching the Solheim Cup to plant its flag in Des Moines, he demanded that one-half of the net proceeds generated by the golf tournament involving the top-names in women’s golf be given to charities benefiting women and children in central Iowa.
"It was not negotiable," Suku said. "If they weren't willing to do this, then they could find someone else.”
No one argued, even when Suku asked for the commitment in writing.
“So when we submitted the response for the request for proposals to the LPGA, we put that right on the front page,” recalls Suku. “They were blown away as they had never seen something like that. I assured them it would happen. And it did. It set an example for all future Solheim Cups and the good that can come from the tournament.”
Suku’s story is a vivid illustration of the power of being opportunistic – of seeing the best in every situation and how opportunities can be leveraged to benefit others.
Being opportunistic can manifest itself in many ways, including on a much more practical level.
I was reminded of this fact recently when mowing my yard. Shortly after starting the task, I was flanked by two enterprising robins. As I made my way back and forth across the lawn, they darted from side to side nabbing moths taking flight from the grass after being spooked by the noise and disturbance caused by the mower.
Soon, my Toro mower and the robins were the most unlikely of allies. Over the course of 30-40 minutes, the two opportunistic birds harvested a bounty of food that they deposited on the fly to their nest of hungry goslings situated in a nearby tree. Talk about being opportunistic!
Being open to opportunity was instinctive for the robins.
It’s also an important leadership quality says Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen.
“Maybe it’s being invited to run for an elected office on student government or to serve on a team or committee,” she says in YOU Are Destined for Greatness. “When the invitation is made, listen carefully to what that opportunity is and if it’s a door that may be opening.
“Then, be brave enough to take the time to say, ‘You know, I’m going to take advantage of that opportunity.’ True success comes from acting on doors that are opened to you. Be ready to step through them when they do.”