Not long ago, I wrote about order-takers, those people who simply accept what you tell them you want and deliver just that—nothing more. They don’t suggest alternatives and other ideas. Meanwhile, the people who thrive are those who make things happen. They seize opportunities and pursue possibilities. If you can’t hear opportunity knocking, you’re not listening. Or maybe, years of pessimism have deafened you to what’s possible.
On the other side of the order-takers are the order-makers. They don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves. They dig deeply, removing layers of obstacles that others just didn’t make the effort to dislodge. The diligence also pushes these motivated, optimistic people to create opportunities in places that are seemingly invisible to others around them.
I envision the word “opportunity” as representing a port or entry into something better than a current location. It coincides with the expression, “Waiting for my ship to come in.” But too many times, this phrase is an excuse for those who aren’t willing to try harder. Or even to try at all.
Opportunities don’t come neatly packaged with a gift card. They arrive unpredictably, tucked inside messy or mixed-up circumstances. They are hardly noticeable as something that might move us into other parts— or ports—of life that are more desirable.
Opportunities can often confuse us. They challenge our core beliefs and turn the status quo on its backside.
Opportunities give us all a chance to live a life of “what if…?”
Steve Jobs often asked, “What if everyone around me is no smarter than I am?”
In a 1995 interview, Jobs explained, “When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and you’re just to live your life and try not to bash into the walls too much.… That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact—everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. Shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it, versus make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you will never be the same again.”
A “Rocky” start
Sylvester Stallone was offered $350,000 for his script, “Rocky”, as long as the studio could cast someone else for the title role. He turned it down.
“I knew if I took that money, I’d regret it for the rest of my life,” he said.
Finally, Stallone was given the nod to star in the film.In return, the studio cut the production budget to a seemingly impossible level.
You know the rest. The movie was a huge success, earning an Academy Award for “Best Picture” in 1977. Stallone was nominated for “Best Actor” and “Best Original Screenplay” by every major industry guild and association that year. The “Rocky” franchise went on to create eight movies, including the two “Creed” films. Stallone has starred in dozens of box office hits. Like the character that launched his success, Stallone believed in himself and held a death grip on the opportunity he saw.
Don’t wait. Create your own opportunities.
The legendary advice columnist Ann Landers said, “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”
What potential have you not yet explored? What skills or knowledge have you not yet maximized? Don’t stand in a crowd of your peers. You’ll be lost. Look in the other direction, because, in all likelihood, that’s where the subtle tap of opportunity can be heard.