Leadership Spotlight

Seizing the Opportunity for Meaningful Change

A stock image of a woman thinking.

While the global pandemic of 2020 has brought chaos to the world, this phenomenon has multiple layers. At the forefront are the deaths and illnesses attributed to COVID-19 that caused life to veer from its traditional path. Efforts to contend with this devastating tragedy continue to unfold, along with collateral events, as the world clings to what once was its norm.


The once-ever-present global status quo temporarily has been disrupted, allowing for the exploration of new possibilities and realities as society considers how we are impacted individually. As all this unfolds, we must take advantage of the rare circumstances we find ourselves in as we struggle to reestablish normalcy. This life-changing bombshell has facilitated a pause for the world to reflect upon and address lifelong, repeated missteps.

The constrictive structures that historically have persisted without question now are temporarily cast aside, allowing us to alter the error of our redundant and catatonic ways. However, this newfound reality for action to optimize our lives only exists for those savvy enough to act while the global “freeze in place” has distracted society from its typical robotic de facto routine. We now can ponder our former blind submission to mandated convention and explore formerly unfathomable and unrealized alternatives—the possibilities are boundless!


In his military treatise The Art of War, Sun-Tzu proclaimed, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity,” so it follows that with worldwide turmoil we now can explore global opportunities to realign and restructure ourselves.1 Now, we have the rarest of opportunities, the chance to bring about simultaneous worldwide, national, and local change to optimize life itself. This temporal rift allows us to break out of the monotony that traditionally compelled our systematic, mechanical compliance with life.

We now must be poised to leap forward to demonstrate newfound realities to reach the goals we desire, rather than merely restructure pathways for expected results that are tired and dull. We must ask ourselves, What vital life issues should we address? and How do we achieve those results? While finding these answers can be difficult, we must discover and continually revisit these questions to achieve the positive change we seek. The complexity of this worthy endeavor continues to grow, so we must consider the groundwork needed to sustain and perpetuate it.

Before we leap into our newfound realm and embark upon the opportunities that once eluded us, we first must take note of where we were and how we got there. It is vital to reflect upon our previous faulty mindset and the errors made to avoid returning there. We need to fully recognize, understand, and define the flawed loop that stagnated dynamic thinking and prevented previous positive life change. Understanding the error of our ways and how flawed logic trapped us by constricting our possibilities is the key to fostering our future happiness and success.

Taking these reflective measures and proactive follow-up actions is crucial to avoid repeating our past pattern of misdirected efforts. Real improvement can take place only when we focus on truly meaningful issues that impact society's actual needs, rather than recycled issues that exhaust our drive. Improved health and wellness, community cohesion, greater happiness, life-work balance, self-realization, and personal freedoms are just some of the many vital areas to explore before this respite disappears. We need to focus on what truly matters most in life and shift our mindset to empower that advancement before this opportunity evaporates.


Overall, my proposition is for society to take the rare opportunity presented to impart a better pathway to enjoy life, rather than just plodding along as we always have done. While I have made a few suggestions on vital issues for improvement, individuals must self-identify priority issues and actively participate in this perpetual process to achieve meaningful change.

Benny Lamanna, an instructor in the Leadership Programs and Instruction Unit at the FBI Academy and a retired supervisory special agent, prepared this Leadership Spotlight. He can be reached at blamanna@fbi.gov.


1 Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Minneapolis, MN: Filiquarian Publishing, 2006).

“...we must take advantage of the rare circumstances we find ourselves in....”