Opportunity often comes in a package that looks like a curse. Whether that curse is hard work, expansion of our comfort zones, or having to learn new things, we spend much of our lives avoiding opportunities. We say, “No, I don’t want to grow.”
Opportunity is just the chance to experience new, different, and more things. It is all about growth, seeing, doing, and knowing more than if we stayed in the same place. Sometimes, people spur us to go after an opportunity. They care about us and know us well enough to push us into that opportunity we would have missed were they not there. Here are a few ways to exploit opportunity.
TAKE EVERY CHANCE
To exploit opportunity, you must become, for the most part, a “yes” person. When you are prompted or an opportunity crosses your path or falls into your lap, say “yes”. But, make sure you don’t say yes to everything because this will burn you out very fast. Follow the opportunities that align with your goals or potential passions, even if not directly.
Often, opportunities are missed because of fear. It may not even be the thought of hard work, but the fear of something new. We enjoy predictability as that makes us feel safe and in control, but this same urge can make us stagnant. We may spend years having not learned or done anything new. If you have goals of achieving something, you must take every chance that is even close to those goals. When you take chances, you allow new possibilities. While you may experience some pain, get embarrassed, or fail spectacularly, by taking the chance you open yourself up to experience something that may completely change your outlook on life. You open yourself up to meeting someone who may greatly improve your life.
BEFORE ANSWERING, STOP
When you are offered something, such as an opportunity to join a new club, begin a new job, or get a ticket to a free concert, stop before answering. What will happen if you say “yes”? You don’t know and that’s the beauty of yes. If you ever feel too relaxed in your life or free of all anxiety, you are sticking too close to your comfort zone. Through its promise of safety, your comfort zone has lured you to stay on a short leash. Life is not meant to be lived on a short leash.
STOP WONDERING AND START KNOWING
When you exploit life, you won’t spend your entire life wondering what would have happened had you done something. You will stop regretting what you missed out on. You will know new things, like, what it’s like to ask someone out, leave home and settle in a new city all by yourself, live alone, or take a job you’re not completely qualified for, but determined to succeed at.
You have the capacity to widen your world, your knowledge, and to know things because you’ve done things. Reading a book about Sri Lanka is great, but why live vicariously through a book? Saving and planning your trip is the thing to do. Life is meant to be seen, heard, felt, touched, and tasted. You must go to Sri Lanka, learn the language, meet the people, eat food you’ve never heard of. When you choose to wonder about life, you miss life.
People are a great resource of knowledge, skill-building, and feedback. Every person you meet has a whole new perspective and skill base that you don’t have. Whether this person is a child, teen, or adult, they all know something you don’t.
Have you ever been struggling with a feature on a phone and a five-year-old pulls the phone from you, does a few clicks, and the problem is solved? Yes! This child knows something you don’t. What do you do after that? You take their wisdom by asking them to slow down and show you how to do it. Teaching and learning is the ultimate way to share your knowledge and people are the ultimate partners. Each of us has trillions of data in our brains that we love to share if someone is willing to listen. Be that person who’s always listening.
So, with this in mind, find a group that enjoys the same things you do. Drop into a class that’s teaching something you’ve never heard of. What can you learn from these people?
Strive to never dismiss anyone. They are your teachers.
QUESTION EVERYTHING YOU ENCOUNTER
When we are young, we ask questions. We question our society and environment by asking why something has to be done a certain way. We take things apart, see what’s inside, and once in awhile, are able to put it back together. As we get older, many of us stop questioning. We accept things as they are. Sometimes, we may think something can be done better, but we don’t attempt to change it. Don’t be this person. Keep your spark.
When you ask questions about everything, you are engaging your curiosity (which is NOT a child-like quality) and opening your mind to your own creativity and imagination. You approach situations in a new way and so, produce new results. This will help you recognize hidden opportunities in your everyday life because you are able to see opportunity in its rawest forms.
Finally, another instance that may limit our exploitation of opportunity is the idea that an endeavor is not creative. People may say programming, bowling, or accounting isn’t creative, while writing, drawing and creating music is. In truth, all of these are creative fields because they require you to engage your mind and design new approaches to this skill. Whether that is building a business application that didn’t exist, finding a new and more precise method to knock over all 10 of those pins, or discovering a novel way to maximize your client’s potential returns. Every endeavor requires creativity and so is creative.
Please remember, if you never try, you have already failed.
So, get out there and try!