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4 Ways to Transform Challenges into Opportunities

Do you ever wonder when your responsibilities will become easier? While the types of challenges you face may evolve, the demands of being a manager will probably never decrease. Whether you are trying to survive an economic downturn or enjoying great profits, the challenges, while often different, will continue unabated.

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Managers Never Escape Challenges in the Workplace

Younger employees and newer managers often wonder when the “easy” days are coming. Before becoming a grizzled business veteran, it is natural to assume there are days without constant challenges and those times when one can “coast.” Wrong.

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As experienced managers are firmly—sometimes, painfully—aware, days without challenges, large or small, simply do not exist. Whether you’re managing in a super-hot or stagnant economy, the challenges, while often different, will continue unabated. Even when operating in a monopoly, which rarely, if ever exists, managers face challenges.

In the constantly competitive business environment of the 21st century, the challenges facing management simply change, but never diminish. Should you be a new manager or contemplating entry to the management fraternity, dismiss any pre-formed opinions that the challenge level will ever diminish. It won’t.

Understanding this fact of business life is important to allow you to keep the “competitive edge” and commitment to excellence necessary to be a consistent success. Don’t waste valuable energy fighting this reality, trying to deny or change it, or attempting to invent a painless alternative. Many others have tried without success.

There may have been a time when managers could take a day off while on the job. That was a long time ago, if it ever existed at all. The challenge factor projects to run without interruption for the foreseeable future. Understand this fact, accept it, and learn to take theses challenges and turn them into opportunities that can accelerate your management career.

How to Create Opportunities From Challenges

Crises occur in good times and bad. Some are corporate life-threateners while others are merely annoying. Yet, all must be managed and overcome to ensure your successful future. Treating these potential disasters as opportunities to enhance your career might make the difference between the future success and failure of your executive career. Here are some tips to morph these challenges into opportunities for success.

1. Much like the fate of venerable, respected world leader, Sir Winston Churchill (considered a mediocre diplomat for much of his career), a crisis, such as he faced during World War II, offers a priceless opportunity for managers to perform. You cannot create the proper stage to display your managerial talent. Circumstances must exist that give you this opportunity. A company, industry, or general economic crisis hands you the opportunity to separate yourself from the "managerial crowd" and rise above the competition.

2. It is easier to succeed and achieve when you are challenged. When in the nexus of an economic boom, it seems everyone shines brightly. You are then challenged to be noticed and recognized. However, when real challenges or crises arise, you have the opportunity to step up, handle the situation, and resolve the problem successfully. A down economy or competitive breakthrough from other companies creates the opportunity for you to establish a benchmark for superstardom.

3. Get into full attack mode when strongly challenged. Facing a challenge is not a time for timidity. Even smaller challenges can win in such an environment. Attack a crisis or challenge with enthusiasm, confidence, and the conviction that you will win. Try to put aside the psychological and career risks associated with challenge and crisis, much like the best doctors, athletes, and world leaders do, to see the opportunities offered and attack possible solutions with high energy.

4. Don’t be shy. Be daringly innovative and try out some new, creative techniques. When you face a challenge, you should fight the natural tendency to “pull back” and simply maintain a status quo. Unless you have addressed a similar crisis in the past and have a game plan that works, this is a time to express your creativity. Be innovative and willing to try new techniques. Your willingness to try innovative approaches to meet new challenges displays your internal strength as well as your management ability to safeguard the corporate ship during a threatening storm.

Challenges come in many shapes, sizes, and danger levels. Attitude often determines whether people and companies face these crises successfully or crumble under the pressure. No one wants to exist in crisis management mode forever. This attitude often generates the wrong results when no specific challenge is on the table.

However, adopting the suggestions noted above can accelerate your career or jumpstart a stalled one. You will be noticed and create some new-found respect for your management abilities. Challenges are the source of new opportunities to establish your professionalism, decision-making quality, and ability to focus on a problem and solve it.