It is said that opportunity knocks but once. Really? And, frankly, I don’t often answer my door, unless I’m expecting someone. I screen calls, too, so leave a message. I think this is the modern approach, those rare times when we are home, we prefer to be selective about interruptions. Am I right?
Lets’ talk about the front door a bit more. When you knock on someone’s front door, how long do you hang around waiting for them to answer? Does it depend on whether they are expecting you, or not? And if they are expecting you, how long do you stand there before you grab your cell phone and text or call them, “Hey, I’m at the door.” Like opportunity, we don’t tend to hang around on the porch for very long, we most certainly don’t set up a tent and wait for the occupant to let the cat out. We knock, we wait, tap, tap, tap the toes, and we leave. Opportunity is less patient than we are. If opportunity even comes to the door. I think that is a rarity.
I’m not speaking literally, here, either. If you are sitting home waiting for opportunity to actually knock on your door, you are far beyond disillusionment. By “knock on the door” it is generally meant, make known, present itself, be available. I apologize for the explanation, but I was married to a man, several years unemployed, who never left the house, ever, in search of work. He would send out a couple of emails once a month or so, maybe place a call here or there, and troll websites, alt + tab style, when I walked into the room. I tried explaining many times that no one was just magically going to show up one day with a job offer for something palatable for $120k per year. Or even $12 per hour. Or at all. So I walked out the door, and opportunity, indeed, was not on the porch waiting for him. I kept walking.
Opportunities go well beyond just employment. And, again, won’t often, if ever, actually walk up on your porch, let alone rap on the door.
So, if opportunity figuratively knocks but once, and we aren’t answering the door, are we missing opportunities? In my opinion, we’d be remiss in waiting for opportunity to knock on our door. I actively seek opportunities in every action, every interaction, every association, everyday, every time I make any kind of contact with anyone, at all. I am all public relations all the time.
Tell me the last opportunity you took advantage of. What was the last opportunity that presented itself to you? What do you consider an opportunity?
A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
chance – occasion – opening – possibility – time
We must seek out opportunity, but first, we must recognize opportunity. To me, an opportunity presents itself anytime I have a conversation with someone, whether in person, via email, text or other means, I believe that interaction equals opportunity. By nature, people are always looking for associations, people are always looking for commonality, a lot of folks are seeking ways to advance their needs, their agenda, their interests. People love to talk about themselves and there is no one, anywhere, that we don’t have at least one thing in common with. “You inhale? Hey, so do I!” You see, common ground.
I see opportunity in very general terms. A conversation, a meeting, an acquaintance, it may not end up with a higher paying job, a real estate offer, or some other fortune, but I have, first, increased my circle of acquaintances and second, honed my people skills. With every meeting, every conversation, heck, with every smile, I improve myself and my ability to interact with others in some way, however small, imperceptible, insignificant, I have added another straw to the thatch roof of my self-confidence.
If I am seeking a specific opportunity, I am a bit more assertive and a lot more focused. I go find doors, lots and lots of doors, specific doors, and I knock, I ring the bell, I text and call and say, “Hey! I’m at the door!” I think of seeking opportunity a lot like a game show. There may be several doors, or curtains, or whatever, and there could be good things, or better things, behind any one of them. I aim to keep playing, keep answering those questions correctly, until I see everything behind every door. I play until I have multiple options to choose from.
Beware of some of those prizes behind those game show doors, though. Not all are prizes, not all are opportunities. Sometimes, especially when we are in search of something very specific, what may seem an opportunity is actually a scheme. For example, if we are trying to lose weight, we may be tempted by ads for quick fixes, pills, Franken-foods and other gimmicky things that promise us quick results with minimum effort. Nope. Not going to happen, and if it does, it won’t be lasting. Trust me on that one. Similarly, if we are looking to start a home-based business, often we will be approached with listing services and other “resources” that require us to pay money up front for some (negligible) benefit.
I spent Saturday with my son, we attended a high school graduation party for the son of long-time family friends, friends I’ve known since any of our now grown children were born. Of course, any time you visit with friends, opportunities abound. My friend has recently taken up paddle boarding, a sport I am very excited to try, we chatted about it during our visit and we will be going paddle boarding in the not too distant future! Knock, knock!
After the graduation party and a charitable grocery trip for my starving college student, and a pit stop at the gas station to top off his tank, I took him out to dinner to celebrate excellent grades for the semester, a B in calculus, a B in chemistry and an A in English. On his recommendation, we went to “Burgers and Brew” on R Street “on the grid” in Sacramento. I do love that town. We had a fantastic meal and a nice chat. He wanted me to see a bar a couple of doors down, “The Shady Lady Saloon”. We popped in, and to continue our celebration I bought my kid a scotch on the rocks. Correction, I ordered him a scotch on the rocks, and a club soda for me (after my beer with dinner and a long drive to Napa ahead). My son headed to the men’s room as our drinks were being poured. When the bartender placed our drinks in front of me at the crowded bar and I reached for my credit card, the nice looking man (with his wife) said, “I’ll take care of it.” I thanked him, a little embarrassed, not really knowing why a strange man, with his wife, would be buying me and my kid a drink, but, hey, opportunity knocks but once! Knock, knock. Conversation ensued, naturally, and I told him we were out celebrating my son’s good grades. We discussed schools and majors and career interests. My son returned and I told him to thank the gentleman next to him for the drink. The conversation continued. My son is a mechanical engineering major and is interested in automotive design. This man is in aviation and offered my son a tour of their facility. Fortuitous. Opportunity. Everywhere. Even in saloons. Knock, knock.
Yes, in saloons. In bars. I met the man of my dreams drinking stout beer and eating beer flavored ice cream, alone, in a bar. Opportunity. Everywhere. Knock, knock. Do you hear the knocking, now? If I were afraid to go places by myself, if I were not a little bit outgoing and willing to speak with strangers, what opportunities might I have missed? When a stranger speaks to you, even if they seem to be “hitting” on you, a little conversation never hurt. You can learn a lot about people with a little conversation and a little observation. It never has to go any further than that. But, opportunity is buried within many of those conversations, if you can only listen for the knocking. Knock, knock.
I have had unbelievable conversations on airplanes. On trains. In shared ride vans and airport shuttles. People, at the very least, are fascinating. And, with each conversation, the opportunity to become more comfortable, more confident talking to people, advancing your ideas, your product, your passion. Sometimes these chance conversations will bear real fruit with a sale, a valuable contact, a critical piece of information, a good restaurant recommendation, or an introduction to an associate that can be of benefit. If you give people a chance, for the most part, they really do want to help out other people, to share, to connect, to be a hero, to provide an opportunity. Knock, knock.
I’m in Provo, Utah this week. I just returned from dinner with a colleague and on our drive back to the hotel I noticed an illustrative example of a missed opportunity. There were, not one, but two huge billboards, close together, one just after the other “Wanted! Storage Containers”. Between the two billboards was a property, a dirt lot, and in the middle of the dirt lot was a storage container with a sign on it, “For Sale”. Are you looking for an opportunity that’s within sight, within a stone’s throw? Look around, they may be more obvious than you know. Ask around, people may see the billboards you don’t. Or the storage containers. Either way. Knock, knock.