Look for opportunities, not obstacles

Max Taylor

In a previous career, I was a professional dirt bike rider — full time salaried and sponsored. I learned early on about the importance of looking for opportunities, not obstacles.

The concept applies to just about any physical or mental challenge in which you’ll engage. Focus on where you want to be and how to efficiently get there, not bogged down by what hinders your progress.

When you fixate on obstacles, you’ll inevitably run into them and likely experience a less-favorable outcome. But when you concentrate on opportunities, you’ll strengthen your skillset and achieve success while expending fewer resources. There’ll be a learning curve, but the techniques will be retained and future returns increased.

Now consider what’s happened in 2020. Not yet halfway through the year, there’ve been wildfires in Australia, a presidential impeachment trial in the United States and a crude oil price war. That’s not to mention, of course, the coronavirus pandemic. Those events have changed the world — but also afforded opportunities for those who look for them.

Zoom, the video conferencing company, found itself hosting most of the business meetings taking place worldwide in the midst of a pandemic. The number of daily meeting participants jumped from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020. That’s a 30-fold increase in five months.

Zoom faced challenges during this unfathomable time of growth. By making timely decisions, investing in infrastructure and hiring more staff, the company will prosper well into the future. Zoom has become a household name because the company recognized an opportunity to gain a better market position and took advantage of it.

Who else is looking for opportunities and taking advantage of them?

In the commercial real estate industry, we’ve experienced phenomenal operational challenges by not being able to meet face to face with basically anyone for the past two months. When the product is always different, location-dependent and very much stationary, it’s difficult to complete transactions. That poses a significant obstacle.

There were still opportunities, though, in figuring out different ways to find inventory, market it and close on sales without showing buyers properties in person or shaking hands on deals. Those seeking opportunities explored new technologies, revisited forgotten techniques and came up with new ways to conduct business remotely or virtually.

Some of these techniques and services likely will continue after the pandemic is over and strengthen the proposition when potential clients pop the question: Why you and not the competition? Obstacles lead to opportunities to make changes and improvements that might not be required in the future, but still will be valued.

Every time I ride a dirt bike, I deliberately remind myself to look for opportunities, not obstacles. Every time I broker a commercial real estate deal, I do the same thing.