Many of us have used a SWOT analysis to initiate planning in our organizations. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; it is intended to be a reflective and objective tool. My experience, however, has shown leaders tend to fixate on weaknesses and threats or tend to exaggerate strengths and opportunities. In this blog, we will examine how leaders can shift from scarcity thinking, which creates limitations, to prosperity thinking, which opens possibilities.
The SWOT analysis was first introduced in the 1960’s as an assessment tool. The internal assessment consists of naming strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to see deficiencies as I have been conditioned to focus on what I don’t have. In business we can come up with many examples: we don’t have enough resources, customers, history, brand recognition, or possibilities. When we compare ourselves to others we tend to focus on what we lack.
When we look at weaknesses or gaps in meeting our goals, we have choices on how to view them. We admire leaders and organizations who, in the face of obstacles, show determination, creativity, resourcefulness, and take inspired action. Given the perceived weaknesses, inspired leaders may not know how to overcome them, but they can focus on greater possibilities that silence the noise of what is missing.
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson was faced with what many would have labeled as the ultimate weakness. Going into the playoffs with the 2018 Super Bowl berth in sight, the Eagles lost their MVP caliber quarterback to a season-ending injury.
Evolved leaders don’t dwell on perceived limitations. Coach Pederson went to work and studied how he could adapt his offense to give his back-up quarterback and his team the best chance to succeed. While Eagle fans everywhere were focused on what they no longer had at QB, the leader focused and planned for what he did have. He knew he could influence his team and what they could control. It started with Pederson believing the Eagles could still prosper if they kept their focus on the Eagles. He was asked before Super Bowl LII how he was going to attack the Patriots. He stated, “... if we make it about the Patriots, we have already lost.” He never gave his power away to the external circumstances, in this case the five-time Super Bowl Champion, New England Patriots. The result was an Eagles’ win in Super Bowl LII and the back-up QB being named MVP.
Are you a leader focused on what you don’t have or are you a leader who builds upon what you do have? The example above shows how a weakness can be turned into an opportunity. Does it work the other way? Can a strength result in a threat? The old saying, “don’t rest on your laurels” may be a clue to the answer. Back to my football example: if Carson Wentz, the Eagles starting quarterback, had not been injured would the Philadelphia Eagles have won their first Super Bowl? We will never know the answer to that question. My gut tells me they would not have won. Their success to that point could have resulted in a more complacent mindset. Complacency can come from a place of superiority thinking. Superior thinking can result in lack of collaboration, reflection, inclusion, and connection which can cause a leader and organization to become stagnant. If we are not learning and growing is that not a threat to our continued success? I believe labeling something a strength can indeed turn into a threat depending on what is underlying the thinking.
As leaders on the field or in the boardroom are we being driven by fear or by love? Using the word love in the context of leadership may be uncomfortable. Another way to look at it is are we being driven by ego or guided by our soul? When our actions come from a place of love, we eliminate energies that are based in fear. Fear energies we have discussed in the leadership series are: controlling others, reactive behavior, clinging to security, attachment to outcomes, and thoughts of superiority. Fear energies are rooted in scarcity thinking. Loving actions we have discussed are: responding from self-awareness, taking inspired action, embracing uncertainty, engaging in the process, and building on our gifts. When we are demonstrating loving actions, it signals that prosperity thinking has been activated.
When we think of prosperity our first thought is money. While money can be an effect of prosperity thinking and we welcome that, what are other rewards of prosperity thinking? The value of prosperity thinking is more fulfillment, more joy, increased creativity, increased connection, a feeling of gratitude and a sustaining sense of abundance.
We all operate from our ego at times even as we aspire to allow our soul to guide our actions. Our ego thrives on fear and our soul expands from love. As Warren Buffett has said, “your greatest measure of success at the end of your life comes down to one word. ” You guessed it, that one word is love. Not only do love and leadership work together, but also love and prosperity. It is time to love. It is time to prosper. It is time to lead.