In order to seize an opportunity, you first have to recognize it. While some of the opportunities given to you in life are obvious, others are hidden. What does it mean that an opportunity is hidden, and how can you find it?
A physical analogy: Picture a matchbook. If the matchbook is in working order (i.e. it is not waterlogged or missing a critical component), every match contains the potential to generate sparks and light flames. Although you do not see sparks when you look at the matchbook, you recognize the potential for sparks because you know the matchbook’s function. You know that all it will take to extract a spark from a match is the act of striking the match on an appropriate surface or igniting it with another flame.
Everything you encounter in life — every situation and every person — is like that matchbook, in the sense that they contain sparks, which are generated through your actions. Dismissing any experience as useless is like looking at a functional book of matches and deeming it devoid of sparks. There is a kernel of enormous value in everything, even stuff that is frustrating and unpleasant. It’s up to you to look for the hidden opportunity, for that hidden spark.
Your life is driven by a hidden choreography, far richer than you can imagine, with sparks of opportunities concealed in every step of your journey. It’s your role to uncover and ignite these sparks, connecting the dots and the coordinates of your life trajectory.
Places Where Opportunities Hide
Challenges: Challenges can be difficult, but they are rife with opportunities. If it seems like your challenges have not offered you any opportunities, change your perspective. Ask yourself: What have my challenges taught me? What strengths and skills have you acquired to deal with your setbacks? What good came from your overcoming a challenge? Have your challenges taken you to new places or introduced you to new people? Have you, at the very least, gained self-knowledge through the difficulties you have faced? Have you put that self-knowledge to work?
Meetings: You might be through with your formal education, but the school of life is always in session. When you meet others, even for no special reason, always keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to new opportunities. Maybe someone will mention a situation which can open up new doors for you. Maybe you will discover that someone needs help with something. In every interaction look for ways to be of service — that’s where the opportunities are hiding.
“Random” encounters: Every one of your encounters, even seemingly random ones, has a purpose. Every single person whom you encounter, even someone unpleasant, is put in your path for a reason. Always be open to hidden, unexpected possibilities in every one of your experiences. Every encounter, even the ones that ostensibly seem superficial, will offer you an opportunity to be kind, or be helpful, or to refine your emotional attributes. When you travel, even if its for business or pleasure, always be open for the spontaneous encounter that can change your life and the life of another.
Your work: Your job is more than an opportunity to earn a living. The people you work with, the place where you work, and the actual work that you do are suffused with opportunities. What can your work teach you about being a better person? Are there people at work who you don’t yet know but who you might reach out to? Can you use your work as a means to fulfill your purpose in life, even if the actual work seems like it is not at all connected to it?
Exercise: Think about your life. List three surprising opportunities you have discovered in areas where you otherwise would not have thought there existed new possibilities. Journal your list in MyMLC.