Which One Has Your Focus?

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein


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“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” 

– Albert Einstein 

I found myself talking to a room full of young people in their 20’s last Friday evening about the art of performance improvement – mostly around sport.

As I spoke to them, it really reminded me of what I was like at that age and it struck me that the information I was sharing with them mostly came from the lessons learned while going through severely challenging circumstances in my mid-20s. In fact that time caused me to ultimately change career.

Over a period of time I had found myself mentally in a very bad state and was very fortunate in having people around me who cared enough to help.

I was lucky in that my Dad, Jim, introduced to a wise and decent counsellor, Maurice, who had a knack for getting results.

He asked me many questions on our first meeting, one of which was this:

Shane, when do you learn more? When times are good or when times are bad? 

My naive answer then was ‘when times are good, because you’re more relaxed and it’s easier to learn’. 

Maurice replied: I think you’re confusing learning in a school way with learning in a real-world way. 

He went on to tell me that we usually learn more when times are challenging because it forces us to face up to reality and to really make changes.

When times are good, it’s too easy to stay doing the same things.

But, he said, you have to be open to learning, and most people aren’t.

Because of that conversation, he changed my perspective on difficult circumstances. I started to welcome pain because I realised that all pain is not bad.

With the above quote, change the word ‘difficulty’ for whatever yours is right now.

In the middle of ‘x’, lies opportunity.

For example:

  • In the middle of Brexit, lies opportunity.
  • In the middle of declining sales, lies opportunity.
  • In the middle of under-performing staff, lies opportunity.
  • In the middle of a health crisis, lies opportunity.
  • In the middle of a relationship issue, lies opportunity.
  • In the middle of this change, lies opportunity.

The opportunity is usually hidden from plain sight – so we have to go digging. And like Maurice said to me, we’ll only make progress if we put our focus on finding the opportunity, instead of dwelling on the pain.

It’s a small tweak on your focus, but in my case it saved my life.

Food for thought,



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