Why You Should Anticipate The Future Even If You Can’t Control It

“Focus on what you can control.”
Every leader knows that, right? Why waste time on the things you can’t control when you can use it to deal with the things you can?
Here’s why.
Consider the “STEEP” factors—the social, technological, economic, environmental and political factors that can hugely impact your business. Things like cultural norms (social), blockchain (technological), interest rates (economic), climate change (environmental), and trade policy (political). You have very little if any influence over any of these. However, if you can anticipate what is likely to happen, then you can take action to exploit potential opportunities and mitigate potential threats.
Years ago we had a client that was a mortgage broker. Interest rates were approaching 30-year lows and the refinancing business was booming. At our annual strategic offsite meeting with that client, we asked them a series of questions:
“What happens when the interest rates turn back up?”
“The refi business,” they replied, “will dry up, and we’ll go back to fighting our competitors over the purchase loan business.”
“Who wins that battle and why?”
“The company with a broad range of well-established relationships is likely to win.”
“How likely is it that interest rates will turn up over the next couple of years and how significant would that be?”
“Highly likely and highly significant.”
“Then what should we be doing now to give us the best chance to win the battle when that inevitable day comes?”
“We really should carve out time to grow relationships with the builders, realtors, and title companies.”
So that’s what we did. What happened? Within two years the interest rates did turn up and, as predicted, the refi business dried up. Yet we were able to successfully adapt and grab more than our fair share of the purchase loan business. Why? Because we developed a broad range of key relationships.
And our competitors? Some of them went out of business. They were so focused on processing all the refi business running in the door, they had nothing to fall back on when that business dried up. Game over.
Here’s the point. We had no control over interest rates. Yet by anticipating what was likely to happen, we were able to make decisions and take action to exploit the inevitable opportunity.
Good leaders focus only on what they can control. Great leaders anticipate, and take advantage of, what they can’t control.
What are you focused on?
Make it happen.
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