When Opportunity Stops Knocking
Life is not linear. This is a quick realization for nearly every adult, as the journey of life winds around, creating an intricate web of experiences that looks far different than the envisioned straight line. What causes this? Are we so terrible at geometry that we cannot follow a line? Opportunity is the culprit. As opportunities arise, if they are an improvement over the current situation, we take them.
Opportunities fall on us from every direction—the opportunity to assist a new project at work, the opportunity to stop at Starbucks before an early meeting, the opportunity to have children, the opportunity to accept a new job, the opportunity to make more money. Big or small, these opportunities slowly wind our lives in new directions.
But sometimes opportunities seem to stop knocking.
Let’s assume you have a job. It may not be your dream job yet, but it pays the bills. You are able to go in, complete your work, and go home. In this moment opportunities aren’t arising. Maybe you were even overlooked for one. Day after day, it becomes the same. Mundane. Boring. Your body and mind on autopilot. If there are opportunities, perhaps they aren’t in line with point B—the big dream you want to achieve in life. You want to move closer to the dream, but you feel further than when you started. Or maybe you were on track toward the dream, but have become so stagnant you struggle to catch a break. Point B looks more like a fantasy.
There will come a time when opportunities must be created, not just accepted. Creation cannot happen without a little creativity, so let’s get creative.
Ask yourself these questions (and write down your thoughts):
- What do people always ask you for help with?
- What new skills or experience could help you get to point B?
- What resources do you already have in place that could be beneficial?
Did you write down your initial answers? Now let’s break down each question.
People naturally seek others who have expertise beyond their own on a given topic. This is done with advanced problems like asking a doctor their medical opinion. But more often we ask simple things of the people around us. It is in these smaller questions that we find hidden opportunity.
Typical skills like playing an instrument, sports aptitude, or cooking are easily recognized and used to create opportunity. When you are very good at something that is not a typical “skill”, it almost seems second nature to you and goes unnoticed. It seems so basic, everyone else must already be good at it. Are you using all of the tools in your wheelhouse?
Take PowerPoint for example—presenters of all types flock to the program to create presentations. We have all seen presenters click through boring slide after slide. People who are talented at creating compelling slides can easily overlook the ability, or the monetary value of the skill. People will pay to be taught these techniques (I’ve seen it done). They desire the ability to make slides captivating and memorable, not witness a tutorial of the program.
Once you determine what people already seek your help with, then consider what you need.
If you have taken a non-traditional path to point B, what could make it more attainable? If point B is a job in an industry different than you have worked previously, list competencies are you lacking. If you wish to start your own business, list the top skills you have not developed but will definitely need. This is about you. Be honest with yourself and break it down into basic job functions.
Once you know what you need, you can shift your focus to finding correlations between hidden skills (what you already have but did not realize) and underdeveloped skills (what you need to get you closer to point B). How can you bridge the gap, using your hidden skills to create opportunity? This may instantly come to mind, but if not, examine your answers to the third question. By including available resources in the thought process, you can evaluate holistically.
Imagine your point B is to be hired as an event planner, but you have little event planning experience. Instead, everyone comes to you for budget advice because you are financially savvy. Bridging the gap does not seem as easy, but as mentioned earlier, creating opportunity requires a little creativity. Plan an event around budgeting! There are many people that struggle with money. Use that to plan a budgeting workshop, which doubles as real-life event planning experience.
If you’re thinking, “but I don’t have the necessary resources (money, location, etc.),” this is a common roadblock. The third question was about resources, so let’s dig deeper. Resources include physical things you have on hand, people you know, and even group affiliations. Just like hidden skills, hidden resources exist. Pose the event proposition to a local church or public library. These are resources you have too, which have a location and could provide basic supplies. If they cannot pay you, remember that your goal was to create opportunity moving you toward point B, which is valuable payment.
Personally, as an Apple enthusiast I am continually asked questions about device operation and the cloud. This hidden skill originally went unnoticed, but once pointed out, I began to realize the value behind it. Wanting to gain consulting experience to move me toward my point B, I used my skill by teaching iPad classes for the community. Later, it evolved into private consulting for area businesses, which was the competency I sought at the start! This was my first big step toward point B, and it even created a monetary gain as a bonus.
When opportunity stops knocking, what choice will you make? Will you become complacent? If you knock, opportunity will answer.
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