I’ve already told you about perceived value. How you need to look like your are worth it before your clients / boss /society in general will think you are worth it. But beyond looking the part, what else do you need to know to advance yourself? Situational Awareness is, in my opinion, one of the biggest skill sets that is lacking in todays business people. It isn’t enough to know what you are supposed to do. What you are supposed to do can change depending on the circumstances around you. That is why you always need to be aware of the circumstances surrounding you and your job. Things change. Keep your eyes peeled and understand what is going on. This will help you more in life then anything they taught you in school.
Recently, I was at a park along a river. There was a nice pier at the park, and a couple of guys out there at the end of the pier fishing. They were both at the end of the pier casting their lines into deep water. They seemed focused on their task, and doing everything they had been taught to do, but they were having no luck. Meanwhile, from the shore I could see that there was a rather large school of fish about halfway down the pier, and just to the right of it… Directly behind the fishermen.
These fishermen were so convinced in what was the correct way to do their job that they didn’t see the tremendous opportunity right behind them. They had no situational awareness, and because of that lack of observation, they failed at their task.
I believe this is an important lesson to everyone trying to get ahead in business. You must have proper situational awareness in order to take advantage of the situation to help you achieve your goals. Never let your experience or training blind you to the opportunities happening around you. No matter how good your plan is, tunnel vision can be your downfall.
In 2007, when the housing market collapsed, many “experts” said “nobody saw the collapse of the housing market coming”. I did. It was easy to predict. Housing prices where getting so inflated that regular people were being priced out of the market. Limiting the number of buyers limits the demand, and as we all know, a high supply and low demand is recipe for a collapse in the market. Anyone with situational awareness could have seen it coming. For those that saw it coming, it was a tremendous opportunity. As more and more people lost the ability to make payments on their homes the market became flooded. This, combined with a limited buyer pool caused prices to plummet. It also sent all those poor foreclosed families into the rental market (because no bank will give a mortgage to someone who just defaulted on a mortgage). This created a great opportunity to buy up cheap houses and rent them out. But only for the people that had the situational awareness to see it coming.