A Navy SEAL's Guide to Thriving in Close Quarters, Part 4: Opportunity The fourth action in my R.E.M.O.T.E. acronym speaks to the experience of starting and leading companies, especially when you are confronted with uncertainty.
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Remember this: Every uncertainty comes with an equal amount of opportunity. The challenge is shifting our focus from the fear of uncertainty to the realm of opportunity. That can be even more difficult when we feel overwhelmed while reacting to the challenges that uncertainty creates. I get it. I have experienced this firsthand leading SEALs and starting companies. When dealing with uncertainty, the trick is to develop a structure that brings some certainty back into focus. Routine, Engage and Manage are the first three actions of R.E.M.O.T.E. and they help you and your teammates create that structure of certainty. And structure is what helps us switch modes from reaction to production.
The next three R.E.M.O.T.E. actions are about taking care of you. If you do not make time for yourself, then over time you will find your focus, effectiveness and energy levels reduced. As a leader, you cannot afford for that to happen; there are too many people counting on you to continue to perform. Finding opportunity starts with challenging yourself to learn and create. When you challenge yourself to do something new, you naturally kickstart your curiosity engine. Your mind is more open to possibilities, and you will find yourself seeing through the fog of uncertainty.
Here's a brief "sea story" to help inspire you to embrace seeking your Opportunity while working remotely. As a young Navy SEAL platoon commander, I was ordered to spend an unusual amount of time on a submarine: 30 days. (We often worked on submarines, but we try to limit our time on them because of space and physical training purposes.) To say that many of my teammates were not excited about our impending submarine trip would be an understatement. They called the senior officer's order a "sentencing," as if we were being incarcerated in a jail underwater, which thinking back on it, was not far from the truth.
Knowing that my submarine quarantine was going to present me with lots of free time, I challenged myself to do two things: create and learn. Specifically, I committed to creating a new product every day for 30 days on a sketch pad. My other daily commitment was learning to how to type, with a goal of reaching 100 words per minute. I bought the cheapest laptop I could find and uploaded it with a typing program. Inventing products was a personal passion of mine, but I had never really practiced the art of thinking up new ideas, and I knew typing was not so much hard as it just required focused practice. With those two goals in mind, I actually found myself looking forward to embarking on our submarine "vacation."
Our undersea journey got extended a few times, and before we knew it we had spent much longer than 30 days on the submarine. But guess what else happened? I had created a daily routine that I looked forward to participating in because inventing and typing were were key to my personal development. I was challenging myself to invent new widgets and to type faster, and I could see my progress from day to day, which made me feel good about myself.
When you are operating remotely or in close quarters (or both as we were on the submarine), you will have more time than you are normally accustomed to — do not waste it. It's an opportunity if you choose to embrace it, and I am glad I did. A few years later I invented the Perfect Pushup (I hold more than 40 patents today) and have written two books. The skills I learned while working remotely transformed my life, and they can transform yours (and your business's) so long as you commit to working on them daily.
There is another benefit that occurs when you start taking advantage of your extra time to improve yourself: Your teammates notice. They might not all follow your lead, but many will. Your commitment will rub off on them. It gives you another dimension to discuss during your company calls (i.e. updates on opportunity time anyone?), and most importantly, keeps you mentally and emotionally engaged when the routine becomes ... well ... too routine.
Any entrepreneur will tell you the most exciting thing about entrepreneurship is your business is up to you. But that is also the most challenging part. The same applies to making the most of your time remotely. Keep your focus on seeking opportunities during uncertainty. I promise you, you will be glad you did.
Stay tuned for action five of R.E.M.O.T.E. and in the meantime, stay safe, be well and embrace the challenge to create Opportunities!