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How can you become a bigger opportunity for others?

What opportunities open up for you is directly proportional to how big of an opportunity you are to the marketplace.

If we agree on that, the question becomes – what can you do to become a bigger opportunity for someone else?

It starts with two words – caring and thoughtfulness.

First, let’s look at caring:

You care enough in words and action so that one or more of the following happens:

the other person sees new possibilities because you are there.
the other person sees an increase in their capacity because you are there.
the other person feels that their life is better off because you are there.

If you really want to test yourself, try answering this question:
If you disappear from the other person’s life, how big of a void will it create in the other person’s life?

The size of that void is directly proportional to the size of your caring.

Yes, that is stretching a bit too far but remember, it’s better to know the reality of where you are than to hallucinate.

Now, try this: Do something that will show someone you are a bigger opportunity than they think you are.

All you have to do is to CARE a bit more than usual. Next, let’s look at being thoughtful:
Being thoughtful is to be caring proactively – meaning showing your care before the other person even asks for it or demonstrates the need for it.

Rather than talking theoretically about being thoughtful, let me share a couple of examples of thoughtfulness.

Parking spot

I got this in an email from a long-time employee of Volvo. In this short snippet, he was remembering his early days at Volvo:
The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their car to work). The first day, I didn’t say anything, neither the second or third.
One morning I asked, “Do you have a fixed parking space? I’ve noticed we park far from the entrance even when there are no other cars in the lot.” To which he replied, “Since we’re here early we’ll have time to walk, and whoever gets in late will be late and need a place closer to the door. Don’t you think?”

2. Breakfast on the go

When I visited Kansas City a few years ago, I stayed at Hamptons Inn. The stay was great. The next day morning I had an early morning meeting and I checked out of the hotel.
Right at the checkout counter was a set of “breakfast bags to go”. Each bag had a muffin, cereal bar, an apple and a bottle of water.

I saw at least two other people before me picking up a bag for the road.
I picked up one bag too. I was happy that I didn’t have to skip breakfast.

Sometimes, you really don’t have to work very hard to walk the extra mile. A small act of thoughtfulness will do.

Here is one danger to avoid – caring and being thoughtful should never result in you being a crutch to the other person.

Never be a crutch to someone

You would have seen someone like Simon.

Simon seems to have a problem with one of his legs. So he is using a crutch just to support himself when he is walking. But upon close observation, the legs look OK. It’s not like something was broken or anything. Or at least there was no visible injury. When you talk to him, Simon tells a story about what happened, an accident when he was young. It was a bad accident and he could not walk for a while. Then he got this crutch and life has been better after that.

You are gone for a week and when you meet Simon again, you notice that Simon is walking without a crutch. You are surprised, of course and ask him how did this happen. Simon smiles and says that last week his crutch was broken. And it happened in a very busy week. He wanted to get a replacement crutch but meanwhile, he started walking without one. In a few days he got used to walking without one and soon realized that he really didn’t need one. The crutch was permanently gone.

Do you know anyone like Simon? No, not literally.

Think again.

For a few of your friends, YOU are that crutch. You are there for them when they slip and fall. You are there for them every single turn and you think that you are helping them. You have a great heart and yes, you are the darling of these friends. You are doing this because they are your friends. You never thought that your acts of short-term help over the long run will result in an involuntary co-dependent relationship.

You never thought that you are NOT allowing those friends to “stretch and grow” because whenever there is an opportunity for them to “stretch and grow,” you are there with a helping hand, robbing them of that opportunity.

Think about these questions for a minute this weekend.

For how many of your friends are you acting as a crutch?
What can you do to change that?

Note: This is NOT a plea to walk away from someone who needs help. It is a plea to be thoughtful when you are extending that helping hand.

No significant project will be small enough to be handled just by YOU. You need to build an ecosystem that clicks. You will partner with people, companies and institutions along the way.
We talked about this before that the foundation for today’s partnerships had to be laid yesterday and the foundation for future partnerships needs to be laid today. We need to constantly be creating “no brainers for the future.”

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