Life, as Ferris Bueller famously said, moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. The same could easily be said of opportunity. Here’s how to take advantage of a potential turning point in your career or business which could make all the difference...
1. Recognise 'moments of choice'
These pop up all the time, says Dr Christian van Nieuwerburgh, executive director of the Centre for Coaching and Behavioural Change at Henley Business School, University of Reading. "Look for recurring conversations or interactions that are personally very frustrating; ideas that excite or inspire, followed by a sense that they are 'unrealistic'; regularly engaging in work activities that jar with deeply-held values and principles, promising oneself or others that you will do something 'one day' without a specific commitment to when this will happen, and consistent information from others that you would be very talented at something." Act, he says, by asking yourself questions such as 'What is your heart telling you?' or 'If you knew that you could not fail, what would you do in this situation?'
2. Let go of your ego
Sometimes a turning point arises when we admit that we can’t do everything. Entrepreneur Sean Mallon, CEO of Bizdaq, started his first business aged 21. "It took me a number of years and a number of mistakes to realise that whilst I was 'good' at what I did, there were people far more capable than I was," he remembers. "In my third year of business, I had the choice of cheap in-house 'lead generation' using my own time, or to invest in an outsourced expert to do it for me and pay a premium. I decided to invest in an expert, and this investment was my best yet." Aaron Dicks, founder of digital agency Impression, agrees. "For me, the greatest personal turning point has been that realisation that I don't have to do it alone and actually, the business benefits hugely from my team’s input."
3. Feel the fear - then question it
We can approach fearful things or avoid them, says Linda Aspey, Chair of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation coaching panel and professional business coach. Fears, she points out, are often bound up with assumptions which we should question. "If you’re anxious or frightened about something, stop and ask yourself: what am I assuming about myself or this situation? And is that true or not? And even if your assumptions can be proved to be true - 'I have no experience in sales' - what are you assuming underneath that, which is stopping you from approaching this? Often the deepest underlying assumption isn’t true either - 'I’ll look stupid'. Instead, find a better, credible and more liberating assumption. "I have no experience now but if I spend time with the right people I can learn". Now how do you feel?"
4. Face up to failures
Negative experiences can also be a turning point, says Aspey - but don’t shy away from them. "If your 'avoid' button has been activated, it’s only human nature to protect yourself from reliving painful, even shameful experiences," she says. "You won’t see it as a turning point, more as an event you’d rather pretend didn’t happen. But if you put it away in a dark cupboard, the door can sneak ajar from time to time, and you’ll never be rid of it. Instead, find a trusted coach, mentor or loving friend you can talk to about it. You need to make sense of it before you can feel sensible about it. What you learn could be just the fuel you need for your turning point."
5. Be brave
Taking a leap into the unknown can be scary - but it can also reap huge dividends. So recognise that a turning point isn’t without risk, then go for it. "Recognising your turning point is identifying those opportunities for growth that can take your business into the next bracket, and being brave enough to take them," says Paul Russell, director and co-founder of Luxury Academy London. "One turning point for Luxury Academy was recognising that being a niche trainer in the luxury hotel market wasn't driving the business fast enough. We moved out of the hotel niche and into the much bigger luxury sector but it took the very real possibility of having to close the business to motivate us to do it, it wasn't our comfort zone. We took the leap and it paid off, eventually."
6. Know your worth
Today, former history teacher Nick Shepley’s history podcast reaches 300,000 people, with 3,000 new subscribers a week, and he’s consulted for Hodder and the Discovery Channel. It all started when he realised how much he was worth. After experiencing bullying in his teaching job, he says: "I needed to realise that I had tonnes of knowledge, strength, insight and passion and that I was worth far more than a few quid north of a grand a month. I had no idea what I was going to do, I just knew that my skills were valuable to someone. Knowing that is the most important thing. Working out how to market them and how to build a business all came second."