Challenges or Opportunities?

We sometimes find ourselves in challenging situations that require extraordinary efforts and push us to reach into the depths of our resourcefulness and ingenuity.  We may say to ourselves “If I knew that this position had so many challenges and issues, I would not have accepted it.”  Dwelling on the challenges of the moment can lead us to overlooking the opportunities he challenges create.

For professional development and career advancement, opportunity is being at the right place, at the right time and with the right people.  Robert Moment, a renowned business strategist and author of It Only Takes a Moment to Score, referred to these rights as Positioning.  Positioning is one of the 6Ps of Marketing that Robert Moment introduced to inform entrepreneurs of how they could create awareness of the benefits offered by their products.  (The other 5Ps were Persona, Packaging, Presentation, Promotion and Passion.)  You can apply Positioning as well as the other 5Ps to the management of your most important economic asset—your career.

As a manager of people during my corporate career and in my coaching practice, I have encouraged individuals and clients to utilize Positioning as a vehicle for professional development and career advancement.  I capture this advice in what I call the Eisenhower Theory.

I call Positioning (being at the right place, at the right time and with right people) the Eisenhower Theory. The Eisenhower Theory states:

Dwight Eisenhower would never have been President of the United States if it were not for World War II.

Dwight Eisenhower was not promoted to the rank of brigadier general (the lowest rank for a general in the Army) until October 1941, 2 months before Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II.  There were several generals including Douglas MacArthur, George Patton and Omar Bradley who held higher ranks and more impressive resumes.  However, Dwight Eisenhower had that combination of interpersonal, leadership and organizational skills that were needed to deal with the great challenges presented by World War II, especially getting the challenging personalities of General Patton, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle to work together.  World War II was the right time and the right place for Dwight Eisenhower.  It enabled him to use his skills, capabilities and attributes to his advantage.

World War II also placed Dwight Eisenhower with the right people.  He was able to build a staff of people and establish relationships that allowed him to leverage his strengths and cover his personal challenges.  Those people were individuals whose traits and styles were compatible with Eisenhower.  This compatibility is often referred to as personal chemistry.

Eisenhower’s rise to the rank of 5 Star General and to the position of Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe became his launching pad for his election as President of the United States.

How can you identify and leverage the right place, time and people to support your professional development and career advancement?  I recommend 3 steps.

  1. Set career goals.
  2. Develop a plan to reach your goals.
  3. Research and confirm.

Effective or game changing goals are established based on your strengths, values and skills.  You set the criteria for situations in which you can thrive or win.

Your plan to reach your goals is your professional development plan.  It should leverage what you have and need to acquire to accomplish your goals.  Your professional development plan can serve as your filter for determining opportunities that you should pursue or the ones you should accept when presented to you.  Without a plan to achieve your goals, you leave your destiny to events and the fate of others doing what they think is best for you or what is best for them.  You get positioned rather than positioning yourself.  We live according to a plan, our plan or someone else’s.

Check out situations before you accept them.  Supplement the filtering capability of your professional development plan with advice from individuals who have traveled the road ahead of you.

Have you encountered Eisenhower Theory moments during your career?

Did you view these moments as opportunities or challenges to avoid?

How did you capitalize on the moments?

What did you do to turn these moments into vehicles for your success?