Guest Blogger Meg Butler, North Carolina, New Orleans Alumnae Association President
I’m on a plane, flying home from an annual conference, only this time, I’m returning with new confidence and enthusiasm, having read Kristin S. Kaufman’s book, Is This Seat Taken?: Random Encounters That Change Your Life. After participating in Kristin’s Kappa-sponsored webinar “The Origin of Authentic Power,” I followed up by reading her book, and it got me thinking about the relationship between opportunity and leadership. Kristin’s stories about random encounters that offered her opportunities for personal growth resonated with me, because I teach and write about leadership, decision-making, and what are called opportunity logics.
There are two ways to pursue opportunities. One way, the way most of us think about things like choosing a career path, finding the right partner, or fashioning your authentic lifestyle, is called discovery logic, where you have a specific opportunity in mind that you are attempting to pursue. The other way, which has been shown by data to be the way most successful entrepreneurs and leaders find that “magic formula” for success, is called enactment logic, where you are constantly trying new things, experimenting with new methods and attitudes, in effect creating your own opportunities, one of which will lead to something, if you’re open to the possibilities and listening to that inner voice that tells you when something is right.
At the conference I just attended, I hosted a roundtable discussion, something I’ve never done before. That led to new ideas for classes, a potential conference panel, and even a discussion with a publisher about a book on the discussion topic. Joining a committee for the first time led a small group of us to articulate a common problem we are having at our respective institutions and put together some ideas for discussion and potential solutions. Walking up and introducing myself to well-known scholars whose work I admire led to possible scholarly collaborations, and similarly, introducing myself to students and younger scholars in my field not only helped encourage them but also helped me rediscover enthusiasm for my own work and created a larger audience for my ideas.
What made the difference at this year’s conference, you may ask? I attended Leadership Academy in September 2012, and it was life-changing. It forces you to interact with others in new ways. It encourages your heart, refocuses you on your personal values, and helps you see leadership as a process. One part of that process is creating opportunities and then acting on the ones that feel right. Don’t wait around for the perfect partner, job or life—get out there and explore. Quite quickly, you will find yourself growing as a person, seeing new possibilities, and beginning to develop leadership skills that have you building teams, making valuable connections, and helping the next generation do the same, creating even more opportunities.