written by Gary Rupert, Leadership Coach & Cultural Strategist for ||:Leaders Creating:||
Once, there was a young man who wanted to marry the beautiful daughter of a local farmer. The farmer told the young man he could have his daughter’s hand in marriage, but only if he could catch the tail of one of his bulls. The young man was told to stand in the field and wait for the bulls to come out. The young man decided to avoid the first two bulls because they looked too fierce. But when he tried to catch the tail of the third and final bull, he realized that the bull had no tail. Basically, he allowed his prime opportunity to go by waiting for favorable conditions. Had he been proactive in his approach, he might not have lost out on his opportunity to catch the bull’s tail, and to marry the farmer’s beautiful daughter.
The phrase “opportunity only knocks once” is about how people should recognize opportunity when it comes to them. It is really a story about change….which we can’t control, and choice….which we can. On the most fundamental level, every experience offers an opportunity. The problem is that too often, we have closed the door to opportunity. We only see the reality of what is, without opening the door to the possibility of what might be. When the young man waited for favorable conditions, he was in essence waiting for opportunity to arrive. Had he been proactive, he would have been discovering or creating opportunity. And that, my friends, is the key!
So how do we open the door to opportunity? What I know is that I can’t keep my door closed and hope that opportunity will somehow find me. I must keep my door open at all times and I must position myself in a way that attracts opportunities. I am guessing that few people consider the concept of attracting opportunities. Here are some ways in which you can open yourself up to the possibility of greater opportunities.
1. Let people know you are out there! — When I first became interested in the concepts of leadership and student motivation, I made it a point to make myself available to help at camps and workshops. Each camp attended offered additional opportunities moving forward. It wasn’t long before I went from offering my services, to being invited because of the services I offered.
2. Be willing to give up being comfortable! — Opportunities often require us to do things we have never done before. Hesitation with being uncomfortable, for even the briefest of moments, may cost you the opportunity for which you are looking.
3. Share what you have! — When you are willing to share YOUR successes and opportunities, others will be more likely to include you in theirs. It is a basic truth that opportunities breed opportunities.
4. See what areas you can improve upon! — When you are open to self-assessment and improvement, movement toward that end will create opportunities you might not have seen by remaining status-quo. One of the best sources of opportunity comes when you are willing to reach out to others who are in a position to help you improve in these areas of weakness.
5. Find a mentor! — Experience has taught me that my greatest opportunities for growth came as a result of having a mentor or as in my case, mentors. Being in the inner circle of positive mentors, offers numerous opportunities that might be otherwise unavailable.
6. Self-preparation! — If the phrase “opportunity only knocks once” has any truth to it, then you must be prepared to answer the knock immediately. Many opportunities are time sensitive. It is important that you be prepared to act now!
So you have attracted opportunities. Now how do you know if they are worthy of your time, energy, and focus? It is true that we are offered more opportunities than we could ever possibly pursue. How does one determine an opportunity’s value? How do you know if it will lead to where you want to go? While there are no guarantees, here are some guidelines for making sure you choose the right opportunity.
1. It is attractive and sparks energy and ideas! — An opportunity that generates excitement and numerous creative ideas is more likely to be sustainable to fruition.
2. It fits your core values! — If the opportunity doesn’t fit your core values….your why….then it should be passed on so that your energies are not wasted.
3. It is sustainable! — Not every opportunity comes from the land of sunshine and rainbows. Often it takes hard work and if you are not willing, or able, to give it the necessary time and effort, it is probably not a viable opportunity.
4. It is timely! — Sometimes a great opportunity will arise at a time that is just not feasible. At that point, it is better to recognize that fact and move on, hoping that another opportunity will arise in the future.
5. It adds value! — If the opportunity does not add value to you and/or your organization, it is ill-advised to pursue it.
This leads us, perhaps, to the most critical stage of this entire process; seizing the opportunity when it presents itself. Recognizing opportunities is a cognitive process. It relies on one’s ability to proactively attract growth opportunities and then determine whether they are viable in meeting the needs of the individual or organization. It is important to understand that while you can wait for the opportunity to magically show up at your door, actively looking to create or discover your opportunities will bring you more choices. Once you have opened the door and you have determined the value of the opportunity in front of you, you must be willing to seize the moment. This is the action step; that which allows everything to come to fruition. Opportunity without action is like waiting for the third bull, only to find it has no tail! Just sayin’!
Gary L. Rupert was a music educator for 40 years and was most recently the Band Director at Smithsburg High School in Smithsburg, Maryland where his bands consistently achieved Superior ratings at local, state and national levels. He is a sought-after conductor and adjudicator in the areas of symphonic bands and jazz ensembles. An avid blogger whose daily entries are followed by people in over 57 countries, Mr. Rupert is the author of a daily inspirational book for students and teachers, “Today, No Every Day.” He is also a sought after speaker on leadership, motivation and creating a positive learning environment.
Gary Rupert has been named an Outstanding Maryland Music Educator, a Teacher of Excellence in both the Frederick and Washington County public schools, and has been twice nominated as a Disney Teacher of Excellence.
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