Finding a Way to Win

by Sandy Nelson on September 5, 2012

Watching Serena Williams overcome bad blood and a troublesome second set rally by Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Andy Roddick outlast his friend, Fabio Fognini, last week at the US Open, I found myself reflecting on how champions often find a way to win—even when the odds and momentum appear to be against them. In each of those matches, the challenger had a run of giving the higher seed a hard time.

It was possible for a period of time to imagine Serena and Andy losing. Yet, each persevered, tried a number of alternative strategies before finding the right groove and closing out their matches with wins. Essentially, Serena and Andy each leveraged resourcefulness until they were able to generate innovations that led to ultimate victories.

Recalling a challenging time shortly after we opened our business a dozen or so years ago, I remembered asking my friend, Richard Leider, “How did you survive when you were getting your business up and running?”

Richard’s response was straightforward, simple and, at the end of the day, profound. “You have to be resourceful,” he said.

The difference between winning and losing, thriving and getting by is often being resourceful enough to stay on the court while figuring out (innovating) a way to win. In a challenging economy, many suffer while others flourish.

Once, during a very bad recession that virtually decimated the real estate industry while I was still practicing architecture, I began to notice that one local architectural firm advertised for multiple new hires every week. After observing this and wondering about it for several months, I wrote to the President of the firm and asked for a conversation.

We met. I asked how they could be hiring when most of their competitors were struggling to survive. His response?

“We reached out to our clients, asked them what their needs were in the recession, and offered to help by taking on any relevant, value-additive task, no matter how small.  Suddenly, we were flooded with requests for service and made our way through the darkest months of the recession just swallowing our egos and being resourceful.”

I found these conversations to be tremendously helpful, took the advice to heart, and shared the insights with my partner. We rooted around to uncover a series of opportunities that allowed us to stay engaged while we sorted out a path forward that has now sustained, fueled and energized us for a dozen years.

In challenging times the path to success is found through resourcefulness and innovation. This is a good day to let go of angst, dig deep, be resourceful and commit to a path of innovation. With diligence and perseverance, almost anything is possible.

Sandy Nelson

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