Downtown Long Beach started it’s “rebirth” right before the Great Recession hit. Many trendy restaurants and business that were once booming and filled started to close. There was almost an erie feeling when you dined at one of the few restaurants left standing. Years later, life is starting to pour back into Downtown Long Beach, but the energy is far from that of Downtown Denver.
A friend once told me that the key to life is recognizing patterns. And timing is a key component to pattern recognition. As I reflected on my own life, I realized just how true that was. So much of my life, so many of my accomplishments, started simply because of the luck and power of timing. I’m so blessed and fortunate. Until I recognized the patterns of the outcomes, however, I wasn’t fully leveraging this power of timing. Once I stopped to identify the patterns, something amazing happened. I started to transform the luck of timing into opportunity for greater success.
You see, when you just “let” things happen, great things can happen. However, if you recognize pattern and timing of things happening, you can create even greater opportunities.
Some tips on Pattern-Spotting:
- Observe all the time. Great opportunities aren’t always obvious, and those with the keen eye tend to have an advantage. A lot of times you will recognize a pattern subconsciously, but not connect the dots and end up letting the opportunity go. If you find yourself saying “hmmm, that’s interesting” when you observe something, stop and reflect on what triggered that reaction. It could be a “pattern alarm bell” going off in your head.
- Carry a notebook at all times. Oftentimes simply writing down something that calls out to you will help bring it from your subconscious to your conscious mind. You can reflect on what you’ve written in your notebook periodically and see if you can think of other examples and instances that you’ve observed the same thing. Every time you hear that “pattern alarm bell,” take out this notebook.
- Read and seek out information in unusual places. It’s amazing how many times I’ve gotten ideas for work or home from an unexpected place. I’ve realized that many problems or challenges, when stripped to their core, can share the same root causes. This means that you can take, for example, a solution that a financial company used to find efficiency and automation in one area and apply it in some form to a healthcare company. Don’t skip articles or news stories because you don’t think they will apply to you or your industry. Instead, shift your frame, and ask yourself “is there any root pattern here that is similar to one I’m seeing in my area, and if so, is there anything from this solution that I can apply?”
- Listen actively and keenly. Intentional listening can often alert you to patterns (and potential problems) before they are obvious (and huge). For example, has the tone of more than one employee turned resentful? That’s a pattern, and a signal that your team could be burning out. If you spot these patterns (and potential problems) early, you have a chance to intervene before things get big. Perhaps you’ve been working independently on a confidential big project that you haven’t told your team about, while you’re team has been holding down the fort (and are feeling taken advantage of). Simply telling them about what you’re doing — or that you’re working on something big but can’t share—could decrease that resentment. Or maybe the simple solution is canceling a standing call that is no longer necessary, giving everyone a little extra time and capacity. These simple solutions are much easier than replacing teammates due to turnover and can increase employee engagement and satisfaction. But you will only spot the need for them if you listen closely.
Some tips on Timing-Spotting:
- Observe all the time. Maybe the timing is based on the level of experience you have. Maybe it’s waiting for the market to recognize a need for a product or service that you know you can provide. Or maybe you need to act now on something, before someone else has the same idea or enters the market. It’s up to you to determine the timing, but you’ll won’t recognize when the timing is right if you’re not watching for it.
- Always carry a notebook. You will have clues all around on whether or not the timing is right. Write them down and then look at all the clues you’ve gathered to see if there is a pattern that gives you insight into timing.
- Read and seek out information in unusual places. It’s interesting how history repeats itself (yet another pattern). If you notice the timing cycle of something that is parallel to what you’re considering doing, you can “piggy back” or mimic the same cycle. For example, for years the healthcare industry has been talking about personalized care tailored to the patient. While some companies had experimented with empowering patients years ago, the timing to push this is now, given the wide use of smart phones and people’s increased comfortability with technology. Healthcare can leverage the timing of technological advances to take patient empowerment and information to the next level.
- Listen actively and keenly. Again, if you listen, you will hear clues all around you. If you have a product idea that you’ve been sitting on for awhile but start to hear people saying that they wish they had something to help with <the problem you think you can solve> more often, that could be a signal that the timing is right. An added bonus—listening can not only give you insight into timing, but can also give you insight as to how to improve your offering to better meet the customer need.
Did you spot the pattern in the above tips?
If you can spot patterns and notice ripe timing, you can create powerful opportunity for yourself.