Answer the door whenever opportunity knocks
When opportunity knocks, some seek to shift the blame, excusing themselves from any responsibility for the challenges life might place before them. They prefer taking the “easy path,” implicitly declaring that opportunities are great but challenges should be avoided at all costs.
Rarely will you find a risk taker within the ranks of those wishing to travel on paved roads as any bumps are blamed upon the inadequacies of others and detours are seen as dead ends rather than unchartered possibilities. People refusing to put forth more than minimal effort while expecting exceptional results are unrealistic in their beliefs; change takes the investment of sweat equity to build upon “what is” on the way to discovering “what could be.”
Far too many individuals seek to rise to the top upon the backs of others, expecting to receive the same rewards simply because they share the same space and breathe the same air.
Those who seek to leverage their individual abilities, attitudes and desires eagerly open the door to new opportunities. They immerse themselves in the identification of “root causes” that may have initiated the disruptive events in their lives, seeking to become an indispensable part of innovative solutions rather than an ongoing contributor to unresolvable problems and unreasonable expectations. They move forward on paths defined by the conditions, situations and issues available to them at the time they begin a journey but are willing to adjust their travels should any of the factors considered at the beginning change.
Individuals answering the knock of opportunity typically identify paths not yet imagined. Those willing to take risks in life visualize where they might go once they step through the door of opportunity. They do not hide behind the safety of a closed existence; rather they absolutely refuse to accept the loss of “what might be possible” by settling on the known cost of “what is.”
We share much in life with others. 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). We share relationships, possessions, thoughts, families and friends. Sharing our workload and the results of our efforts has become an expectation as we seek to magnify our contributions by blending them with the unique gifts others have been given, to accomplish collectively more than could have been completed on our own.
With such an emphasis on sharing and “teamwork” being taught in schools, expected at work and embraced by people seeking to minimize personal risk, however, we discourage people from answering the knock of opportunity by dissuading them from expressing their individuality without fearing failure.
Within a politically correct world that rewards results rather than encouraging discovery, do we allow people to bring their dreams to fruition? Are people encouraged to answer the door or are they expected to remain locked tightly within their current reality? Do we keep the door closed by convincing people it is alright to find comfort in the way things are and that they will never change? Perhaps the opportunity that knocks in each of our lives should be greeted as a dream that has yet to become reality rather than a reality that has established itself as our dreams.
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 or 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 who perform to the standards and expectations of others may be great contributors, adding value to society, but until they identify their aspirations and work toward accomplishing them, people rarely discover new horizons or identify unknown paths that would allow them to travel beyond the door of opportunity once it has been opened.
To accomplish our dreams we must be willing to open the door that holds captive the safety and security of our present so we can step through to the unknown opportunities of a future yet to be fully identified, realized or finalized. When opportunity knocks, you can ignore it, consciously turn it away, or embrace it as you move toward its unrealized potential. You can answer its call or hide within the safety and security of “what is.” You can avoid answering the door, hoping someone else will invest the sweat equity needed to bring opportunity to fruition by investing the time and energy you are unable (or unwilling) to expend, but you must then accept the results they accomplish rather than the possibilities you could attain.
Some accomplish much because they sacrifice all, holding back nothing as they seek “the prize” rather than worrying about “the cost.” They picture life as a series of surmountable hills rather than a single insurmountable mountain. They see obstacles in life being temporary detours rather than permanent closures, finding the good in every situation rather than dwelling upon the bad in what might come their way.
People answering the knock of opportunity see where they wish to be and envision what they wish to become, then invest themselves into making those things become reality rather than containing themselves or maintaining the status quo. While they accomplish much for themselves, they allow others to taste success by paving the way for them to follow once they have opened the door, for they know that leaving the door closed would prohibit new discoveries and eliminate new accomplishments.
David J. Smith is president and CEO of The Employers’ Association in Grand Rapids.