Turning everything into a win (minimising the downside)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development


When I travelled to Europe a few years ago I learned French and Spanish using a bunch of Michel Thomas audio CD’s

Side note: If you’re wanting to learn French, Spanish and a number of other languages you should definitely look him up at michelthomas.com, if you learn best by listening (like I do) then he’s the way to go.

I managed to listen to over 24 hours of lessons in the three months before I left. I did this by simply replacing the music/radio in my car to language lessons instead. 40 minutes commute each way every day adds up to a lot of potentially wasted time!

It got me thinking. How can we turn potentially wasted or not ideal situations into something that actually benefits us? Not just by recovering wasted time, but by using situations or experiences as stepping stones to a greater goal.

Using your commute is a simple example of being able to learn a language at the same time. Or listen to useful podcasts, or improve yourself by reading books.

What if your goal was to become proficient in one or two languages within a year? Could you in fact get paid to do this?

You could take a job as a long haul courier driver, gatekeeper or similar and listen to language courses for up to 8 hours a day! You could also use Skype to actually talk to someone in the language you want to learn. There are plenty of websites that connect people wanting to learn English with people wanting to learn their language. All while still doing your job.

The downside of learning a language is the amount of time it takes, usually you’re too busy working.

The downside of working is that it takes time away from doing things you want to do, like learning a language.

So not only do you achieve your main goal of learning a language, but you manage to do your job and get paid at the same time. You may never have wanted to be a courier driver but suddenly it can become a great enabler of something else.

I was once a parts manager for a vehicle manufacturer. It was the most boring job in the entire world (at least I thought so). Literally the same thing every single day. I thought my time there was wasted.

Little did I know that the skills I learned in that job were invaluable when starting my first successful business, the one that allowed me to change my working life completely.

If I hadn’t done that job I would never have know about importing, supply chain management, stock keeping and a whole lot of other skills. Skills I absolutely needed to start my own business. So even though what I was doing didn’t seem fulfilling at the time it was a great training ground (and an opportunity to make mistakes with minimal risk) for what I was about to do next.

In order to turn everything into a win, you need an opportunity mindset (as opposed to a victim mentality). You need to be able to think creatively about how each situation can benefit you.

Entrepreneurs have this mindset. 90% of your businesses may fail (only 3 of the 11 I’ve started ever went anywhere). But if you learn a few things with each new attempt (and haven’t taken on huge risk with each failure) then you’re winning. You will succeed in the end.

You also need a very clear goal that you’re working towards. Once you’ve got this you can creatively find ways in which each situation is moving you towards this goal.

If it’s to have a successful business, then even starting businesses that fail is teaching you and moving you towards this goal. If it’s learning a skill that takes time, being able to do that while getting paid for an unrelated job is moving you towards this goal.

Keep the goal in mind and remember the way to get there may not be a logical linear path.