Opportunity (noun) – A set of circumstances that makes it possible to increase your well being
When it comes to opportunity, the only thing worse than counting your chickens before they hatch is counting your eggs before they’re laid. Too often people forego immediate opportunity in lieu of future opportunity, only to have that future opportunity never come to pass. Whether it’s in the business world or your personal life, taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves is what can separate a success story from a sob story.
We are all familiar with the saying “strike when the iron’s hot,” but for a lot of us we never strike, regardless of the temperature. Just like a game show, it’s human nature to always be more interested in what’s behind mysterious door number 3, rather than the prize you already have. This “door number 3 syndrome,” as I like to call it, causes us to pass up opportunities in the present in the hopes that there will be greater opportunities in the future.
Sure I just won a boat, but there could be anything behind door number 3, there could even be a boat!
And even though future opportunities do sometimes come to pass, we are only guaranteed the now, and the only guaranteed opportunities are the ones right in front of us. Yet we often times use the shiny allure of future opportunities as an excuse to take inaction.
It’s better to pull the trigger now rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity later, because we all know there is no such thing as a perfect opportunity. Opportunities become perfect in retrospect, but in the beginning they almost never are.
What’s funny about opportunity is that a lot of times the right one for you is cloaked in another opportunity entirely. How many of us have taken a new job or moved to a new city or decided to invest in a new business venture, only to be in a completely different and better situation one year from taking that initial opportunity? I know that for me almost every positive thing that has happened in my life has been a direct result of me taking advantage of a completely unrelated opportunity.
Take my partnership with my current startup, for example. After living in San Diego for six years I decided to take a financial consulting job in the Bay Area. During my search for an apartment in San Francisco (I used Craigslist – and not the casual encounters section – for all of you wondering) I met a cofounder of a budding tech startup. We quickly found that we could provide each other with mutual value and as of right now I am helping the business grow, and my life is most definitely better off.
When you take advantage of an immediate opportunity you aren’t limiting your options, you are multiplying your options. No one said that just because you seized the moment you gave up any chance of future opportunities. Why have one when you can have both?
The bottom line is don’t be distracted by door number three. Rather, focus on maximizing your current situation, which, in retrospect, could be that perfect opportunity you were waiting for.