Week 13: Hurdles and blinkers

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In each of our lives, some weeks are more predictable than others. Some people are a little afraid of change and facing new, unexpected challenges, whilst others face the world with a ‘can do’ approach and even relish unpredictability and the need for flexible thinking and action to jump over the hurdles put in our way. And just like the best race horses, this keeps us fit and agile.

My first meeting of the week continued perfectly with the idea of a connection hierarchy in that the meeting started not as I might have expected. The reason for that was that emails can never be as good as face to face meetings, as emails can never convey nuances and real intent in the way that face to face meetings can. Despite the unpredictable start of the meeting, by keeping flexible in approach, by the time the meeting ended we had agreed how to proceed and stretch our minds together to positively disrupt the market and build on the extremely solid foundations that the company has already built. I would certainly say that this business was ‘one to watch’ in the future.

Next that same day was one of those meetings that I really enjoy but many people would never have had in the first place. It was a meeting with no fixed agenda or even any real knowledge of what exactly was the reason for the meeting, just that my years of experience had taught me that there would definitely be many ways to cooperate if we met and explored the opportunities with an open and flexible mind. Neither of us were to be disappointed. In truth, I think that we found many more opportunities, and across a broader spectrum, than either of us might have expected. A number of follow up meetings are already arranged and some specific steps already agreed. I have no doubt that this will be a long and lasting relationship that will benefit both sides, albeit in different ways. And all because of keeping flexible.

During the week I also had a number of phone conversations that either started not in the way that I was expecting or, even if they did, by the time the conversations were over they had gone off at something of a tangent because that was where the real benefits were at this time. In my experience, too many people become too blinkered and close their minds off to actually listening to what is being said and in so doing they miss many of the best opportunities. Flexibility really can help us get into positions that we would never be able to if we are inelastic.

The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator hub in London hosted a pitching competition where a number of exciting early-stage businesses on the programme competed for a £10,000 prize. As can be imagined, all of the businesses had displayed an open-minded and flexible approach in order to identify the gaps in the market that each of them were now starting to exploit very successfully.

It was a similar story at the launch event for the latest issue of Startups Magazine. The magazine this month is focused on early-stage startups and all of the attendees displayed a keen interest to learn how establish and grow their business, and all were flexible to adapt as they take on new knowledge.

So what have I and all of the people that I met this time learned over the last week? Without a doubt it is that keeping flexible and approaching everything with an open mind will lead to many more opportunities than will be possible if you are too blinkered and not prepared to jump over all the hurdles that are put in your way.