Cartier: Opposition research begins with you |

Cartier: Opposition research begins with you

As the ski season ends, we notice the usual changes. Colors change from white to brown to green, we get excited about new seasonal adventures, and shedding off clothing like a bear out of hibernation is a thrill. Yet, the valley often sees another kind of shedding: the closing of local businesses.

Even the closing of establishments with which we are unfamiliar is heartbreaking because we know, oftentimes from direct experience, the blowback of broken dreams … someone’s vision for a better life for themselves and what they envisioned providing the community has somehow failed. However, as we learn through time, it is not a failure unless it is our final move; otherwise, it is merely an unanticipated result.  
How do we avoid having too many of those unanticipated results? Of course, the usual planning, keeping on top of industry trends, fiscal responsibility, effective marketing strategy, establishing and maintaining a unique and memorable brand, all within an overall positive management style. Yet, with all that, there will always be elements out of our control: the local, national and global economy; supplier issues; seasonal industry; changing traffic patterns; commercial facility problems (plumbing, heating and air conditioning, building maintenance, etc.); inventory delays; personnel difficulties; the list goes on.
Of all the things that can go wrong, the one you have most control over is you. Many times we know that we should do something differently, yet we don’t. Often, we simply don’t know where to begin, and thus, we remain in the mode of “should”-ing all over ourselves.
A simple starting strategy is to do a little opposition research, where we are the subject. We like to think of ourselves as being the best, and that is a great mindset, but we must also periodically take inventory of our pros and cons, just as we would in running a business.
In business, we naturally know our strengths. In order to objectively identify our weaknesses (a necessity if we are to improve) we must approach our business as if we were the enemy — what would the opposition say? That eclectic display cabinet may not look like an art piece but instead look like a hunk of junk to potential customers. The folksy charm might seem like a neighborly chat to you, but to a buyer it may be simply annoying. Those pieces that you got such a great deal on may not sell because there was a reason why you got them so cheaply.  The garlic from your favorite Italian lunch dish, may not smell so great to co-workers or customers. Your casual manner of bookkeeping could sink the ship of your enterprise and not please Uncle Sam.
When we evaluate ourselves, it’s not a negative exercise. It is an inventory of where we are today and where we will be tomorrow. Does it require a course correction? Sometimes things happen along the way, which alters our direction. However, without a regular analysis of our current position, we might not realize that we have gone off course. If we wait too long, we may find ourselves heading to a place we never intended. While it might produce some unforeseen benefits, it will also deter our ultimate destination.
This process is helpful in all areas of our lives, including personal.  Relationships benefit from having frank discussions about what we want to accomplish together and independently, and how we will achieve it. Young people who delay having children then suddenly find themselves in their 40s seeking fertility specialists. The empty-nesters whose primary focus for two decades was the children suddenly realize that they know little about each other outside their parenting role. Adult children who accept responsibility in other areas of their lives but fail to shift from child roles with their parents continue to expect them to prioritize their needs, while the shift now should be for them to give back. For career goals, where taking a job to make ends meet has completely deterred career objectives, resentment can develop. There are so many areas where we must monitor our current situation in order to live up to our potential and realize that we are the ones responsible for fulfilling our dreams. 
Sometimes, life takes us on unexpected journeys. These travels may lead us to incredible opportunities; yet let’s make sure we go knowingly and willingly. Continual evaluations will assure, that even if the destination changes, we are prepared and excited about the possibilities. Make your life a deliberate choice, not an accidental happenstance.

Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. She may be contacted at For further information, visit

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