Matters Column

When opportunity knocks, answer the door

April 19, 2013
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When opportunity knocks, some seek to shift the blame, excusing themselves from any responsibility for the challenges that life places before them. They prefer the easy road to all the destinations they might choose, implicitly declaring that taking the hard road might be OK — for someone else.

Rarely will you find a risk taker within the ranks of those wishing to travel only paved paths. Those who seek to accomplish much without investing anything often realize too late their great plans and expectations are destined to fail. Refusing to put forth more than minimal effort to achieve exceptional results, they are unrealistic in expecting anything good to materialize without building from “what is” to “what could be.” 

You would not often find an individualist willing to embrace the bad as a precursor for the good among those seeking “all gain with no pain.” They seek to immerse themselves in issues, becoming an indispensable part of solutions rather than an integral part of problems. They move forward with measured abandon, seeking paths not yet imagined. They seek to live out their being as more than simply existing, having visualized where they wish to be as preferable to accepting where they might find themselves as being a final destination.

Often those seeking to rise to the top on the backs of others want all they might ever need without working for it, expecting the same fruits others enjoy simply because they share the same space and breathe the same air.

Those who seek to leverage their individual abilities, attitudes and desires often find that others share their rise to the top by following their lead.

We share much with others in this life. We share the things we do (and sometimes those we consciously choose not to do). We share our accomplishments (particularly those that bring us success rather than resulting in failure). We share relationships, possessions, thoughts, families and friends. Sharing our workload and the results of our efforts has become the norm.

Working in teams — sharing tasks that magnify individual contributions by blending them with the unique gifts of others to accomplish collectively much more than could have been completed on our own — has become the mantra of workplace efficiency.

With such an emphasis on sharing, however, what is truly “our own” in this life that is shared with others through common ground, shared existence and team-based accomplishments? Perhaps we need look no further than our dreams to realize what is — and always will be — uniquely and individually ours.

Dreams are thoughts not yet realized, aspirations not yet brought to fruition. Dreams are the basis of our goals and the foundation of our good intentions. We can live life without dreams but cannot embrace its full potential — become all we hope to be or realize all we might wish to accomplish — without first visualizing what we want to become or what we desire to do as we travel through life.

Those that perform to the standards and expectations of others may be great contributors as they add value to society but, until they identify their individual aspirations and work toward their accomplishment while seeking to benefit the greater good, they rarely find new horizons or identify unknown paths that will lead to a new and unrestrained future.

To dream, we must be willing to move from the safety of our present toward the unknown opportunities of a future that has yet to be fully realized.

We often see only the surface of opportunity when, in reality, it is a deep, inviting pool awaiting our entrance. Take the plunge: You will find that awaiting you is something far greater than what you currently enjoy. Reaching the goal may be an accomplishment of huge proportion, but “getting there” is often more than half the fun.

When opportunity knocks, you can ignore it or embrace it as you move toward a resolution. You can work diligently to answer its call or hope that it will simply go away. You can defer it to another, hoping someone else will invest the sweat equity needed to bring opportunity to fruition.

Those who seek to accomplish much without investing anything often realize too late their great plans are destined to fail. Refusing to put forth more than minimal effort to achieve exceptional results, they are unrealistic in expecting anything good to materialize without building from “what is” to “what could be.” 

Some accomplish much because they sacrifice all, seeking all because they hold nothing back. Should opportunity present itself to these they would ask why not, rather than focusing on why. They see a surmountable hill rather than an insurmountable mountain. They see a temporary detour rather than a permanent closure.

They not only see where they wish to be and envision what they wish to become, they invest themselves in making those things become reality. It is these people who are responsible for not only their own growth but for the growth of others — not only for their own accomplishments but also for the success of many.

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