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[Be Opened] Lesson 1: Not All Opportunities are Created Equal

Written by on 18 Aug 2015

By the simple fact that you are reading this post, I know that you are a person whose life is filled with opportunity

 

I bet there are many opportunities you don’t even acknowledge or appreciate.

 

I know I need to be reminded sometimes.

 

For instance…

 

You have the opportunity to discover unknown amounts of information via the internet. You have the opportunity to gain an education that allows you to read. You have the opportunity to pursue your hobbies or extracurricular activities. Maybe you have the opportunity to travel. Hopefully, you have the opportunity to express your faith whichever way feels right to you.

 

If you take a step back and look at certain parts of the world, those opportunities are definitely worth celebrating.

 

Now, I didn’t draw you this far into the post to lecture you on how you’re supposed to appreciate all of the opportunities in your life. That’s not the point today.

 

In fact, I’m actually going to do the exact opposite.

 

Here’s the deal. My life was not much different from the opportunity-laden one I’ve described above.

 

I got a great education, played sports, studied an instrument, took art lessons, traveled around the world, chose a religion, expressed my beliefs, and met some incredible people along the way.

 

And I was thankful for all of those things, because they were opportunities that really resonated with who I was. Academic, athletic, global, religious… they were authentic to me.

 

But after high school, I started getting other kinds of opportunities.

 

Opportunities that were a little less benign.

 

Opportunities that didn’t necessarily jive with what I wanted to do.

 

Or better yet, what I felt called to do.

 

Opportunity #1

 

My first incredible “opportunity” came when I graduated from high school.

 

I was awarded one of the “greatest opportunities” an athlete could imagine—the chance to play college sports at the Division One level. This had been my goal for years. It was the reason that I had committed countless hours from the ages of 8 to 18 to playing softball.

 

More importantly, it was the reason I said “no” to everything but softball.

 

But something weird happened when I was given that “opportunity.”

 

All of a sudden, I didn’t know if I wanted it anymore.

 

By the time I was 18, I was already feeling burnt out on softball. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to a school based solely on the fact that I could play for their softball team. What if there was somewhere better for me?

 

What would happen if I chose to quit?

 

But as with all of the other opportunities in my life thus far, this one was readily available and ripe for the taking. Better yet, everyone was expecting me to do it.

 

And I hadn’t disappointed them yet.

 

So, against my gut feel and intuition, I said “yes” to that opportunity.

 

Four years later, it happened again.

 

Opportunity #2

 

My second incredible “opportunity” came when I graduated from college.

 

I was presented with one of the “greatest opportunities” a Yale-grad could imagine—a job. And not just any job—the chance to work on the trading floor for an international investment bank. This had been my goal since junior year. Getting a job with which I could support myself and take care of my family was the reason I worked so hard at school.

 

More importantly, it was the reason I said “no” to some of my other opportunities in life.

 

But something weird happened when I was given that “opportunity.”

 

All of a sudden, I didn’t know if I wanted it anymore.

 

In college, I studied behavioral and social psychology. I even wrote my senior thesis about improving premature infant care. Even though I would be able to fully support myself and take care of my family, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be at the bank or even finance in general.

 

What would happen if I chose to quit?

 

But as with all of the other opportunities in my life thus far, this one was readily available and ripe for the taking. Better yet, everyone was expecting me to do it.

 

And I hadn’t disappointed them yet.

 

So, against my gut feel and intuition, I said “yes” to that opportunity.

 

Sound familiar?

 

My life was a broken record of taking the opportunities that were readily available to me—not necessarily the ones that felt right to me.

 

And for a while, that was ok. I got a great education and a great job out of the deal.

 

But then, even more suddenly, different kinds “opportunities” began to present themselves.

 

Some of these were even more enticing than those before…

 

Opportunity #... ?

 

I had the “opportunity” to lie at my job.

 

I had the “opportunity” to attend places of adult entertainment.

 

I had the “opportunity” to engage in a relationship with a coworker that would have advanced my career.

 

I had the “opportunity” to try and/or buy just about anything I ever wanted

 

I had the “opportunity” to sit for 12 hours a day in front of 4 computer screens.

 

I had the “opportunity” to drink Ny-Quil at night to calm my nerves just to get enough sleep to make it through the next day of sitting for 12 hours a day in front of 4 computer screens.

 

Seeing a pattern here?

 

Slowly but surely… it dawned on me.

 

It took several less-than-savory “opportunities” for me to realize that maybe… just maybe… not all “opportunities” that were readily available were the ones I should be taking.

 

And not just the bad ones… maybe some of the good ones too.

 

Now, I’m not saying that I regret where I went to college or taking my first job.

 

Those decisions have shaped who I am for the better.

 

I learned so much about life and about myself through those experiences.

 

What I’m saying is that life is a constant opportunity-generating machine. There is nearly no end to the amount of “opportunities” that will suddenly become readily available to you.

 

Your job is to become a better consumer of those opportunities.

 

Your job is to to trust yourself and your intuition when it comes to deciding which opportunities are right for you… not just “right” in general or “right” in the eyes of the world.

 

Right to you.

 

Opportunities That are Right... For You

 

You will have to learn to judge whether or not an opportunity feels right to you.

 

If you fall into the trap of making the easy decision—always taking the road right in front of you or the opportunity that’s readily available—you may find yourself down a path that you never planned to travel.

 

And not the good kind of path.

 

The kind of path that ends with you outside of a wedding reception on a curb crying.

 

Not just crying.

 

Ugly girl-cry sobbing.

 

So how do we know which opportunities are right for us? And better yet, how can we begin to explore opportunities that are unique to us? What about opportunities that we don’t see right away or might not be readily available to us?

 

Tune in next week, when we explore the answer to these questions with the letter P in OPENpossibility.

 

*****

Now I want to hear from you!

Do you have an opportunity that you’re currently considering taking?

Does it feel right to you, or are you considering it for other reasons?

Leave a comment below.



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