Tag Archives: opportunity

Opportunity: Take It – Or Make It?

Key in Door

   Recently I heard a story about a teenage girl in high school who had been awarded an internship with a surgical department at a prestigious hospital. She was quoted as saying that the internship was “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Perhaps it is. But her story got me thinking: We tend to view opportunity as this random thing that strikes like lightning without warning upon whomever it will. But does it really? Is it really as arbitrary as we think? Or does opportunity “strike” some individuals more often than others? And if so, is it really as indiscriminate as we think?

   Turns out that the girl who was awarded the internship had a near-perfect grade point average and she won the internship based on her academic achievements. Not surprising then that this opportunity would come her way. In fact, given her grades, it’s likely other opportunities will strike – kind of like a metal rod attracts lightning bolts. Translation:

The more we plan for opportunity, the more opportunities we get.

   But how do we plan for something that’s such a chance proposition?

   First thing: Identify the Dream. First we have to know what the heck it is we want. What vision do we have? Is it a specific job or career path? Or is it a unique life experience: a trip to some faraway continent, an adventure like climbing that huge mountain or driving a racecar 100 mph (on a track)? Maybe it’s a chance to touch other lives: to go on a missions’ trip or to work with people who need assistance or money or education or the encouragement to succeed themselves. Maybe it’s to free up our creativity and have an art show or to design our own clothing line or to publish a book or even to patent and market that invention that’s been brewing in our heads all these years.

   Simply put – we have to know what we want.

   Second thing: Research the Dream. The next thing we have to do is to answer some questions: How possible or impossible is our dream? Is it easy to achieve or difficult? Does it take talent or education or an internship or money or investors or physical labor or a partnership? Do we have these things? If not, can we get them? What’s the time commitment, both daily and long-term? In terms of business, is there a demand for our product, service, or idea?

   So – let’s say I want to become an astronaut. (I don’t but let’s pretend.) I have to answer those questions: Is it possible to become an astronaut? If I’m 20, possible. If I’m 40, not so much. Will it be difficult to do or easy to do? It’ll be difficult – no matter how old I am. (However, “hard” does not mean “impossible”.) What will it take? It’s safe to say that becoming an astronaut would take some level of ability – mental, physical, emotional – and certainly it would take education. I’d probably have to join the Air Force and become a pilot or get a PhD in astrophysics or something. Internship? No doubt. Money? Either my own or someone else’s. Do I have these things?  No. If not, can I get them? With a lot (a lot) of work. What’s the time commitment, both daily and long-term? Probably 18 hours a day for years. Is there a current demand for astronauts? More importantly, will there be a demand for them after the 20 years it takes me to become one? Hopefully.  However, if NASA’s not hiring, then maybe I can find a job piloting very rich people to Mars.

   If too many of the answers to these questions are “no,” then perhaps we should look into Dream B. For example, I’d have to end the astronaut dream at the “Is it possible?” stage. (Let’s just say I’m not 20 and leave it at that.) However, if the answers to our questions are doable – even with hard work – then the only other question is: How badly do we want it?

   Third thing: Plan the dream. The answers to the above questions will be what we’d use to devise our plan to make the dream happen. In terms of getting into college or grad school or getting that prime job afterward, grades will count so we can’t wait till the last minute to make them; “making the grade” has to be part of our long-term plan – as it obviously was for the young lady who won the surgical internship.

   And let’s face it – most dreams cost money. Whether it’s for our education and associated costs, business start-up, costs to market the business or book or art show or product – it’s all going to cost money – and probably lots of it. The two most important questions are: How much and where do I get it? Now, if mom and dad’s bank account is an option, problem solved. However, for most of us, it’s not. So – can we get scholarships or loans or grants or investors or a job? The fact is, there’s almost always a way to get money; it’s just a matter of how long it takes to save up from the job or to make the scholarship grades or to write the business plan to get the loan and/or investors.

   Fourth thing: Work the Dream. Once we have the money, we can proceed with the rest of the plan. Will it take time? Of course. It might even take a long time. But as they say, time’s going to pass anyway. Even if it takes years, if we don’t pursue our dreams, will we want to have to look back and wish we’d invested the time once it’s passed? My guess is no.

   Opportunity is often something people sit back and wait for. Then, if and when it strikes, they take it. But let’s face it – that might never happen. A far wiser strategy would be to make opportunity happen. Identify the dream, research the dream, plan the dream, and then work the dream.

   Do this and you’ll be amazed at how often opportunity just happens to knock at your door.

 

Those Mysterious Open Doors . . .

door

     Nothing is more chilling than a door that opens by itself. Whether it creaks slowly open or abruptly slams open, it’s unexpected and unnerving. Especially if you never saw the door in the first place.

     Doors, in the spirit realm, are like that; one moment there’s nothing there and then suddenly, there’s a portal right in front of you – and what can you do but walk through it?

     Since the new year, I’ve heard several times and from different sources that God is opening new doors – both natural doors and doors in the spiritual realm. Now at first, I have to confess, I thought the “open door” theme was simply the usual new year’s chatter: every year someone promises that the Lord is going to open new doors for someone, somewhere. And no doubt sometimes He has. But often a word that was meant for one person or small group we take to be a general word for everyone. But this year is different. When we begin to hear the same message from several sources, over and over, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. So, what does it mean for God to “open a door” anyway?

     Rescue. There are times in our lives when we may need to be rescued, to be saved from some circumstance that may or may not be of our own doing. Take Peter the Apostle; in his case, the “door” that opened for him was literally a door – a prison door. Peter had been cast into jail for the heinous crime of preaching the Gospel. We don’t know how long he was there but he’d probably been in prison long enough that he’d given up hanging onto the cell bars, peering hopefully out, waiting for his angel in shining armor to fly in and rescue him. And yet, in the middle of the night, after perhaps many nights, after Peter had given up, left his watch, and fallen finally asleep, an angel did appear and that heavy iron door swung wide open. The point is that once God opened that door to rescue Peter, no one, not even the entire Roman Empire, could stop Peter from walking through it.

     Opportunity. Sometimes the “door” God has for us is an opportunity; it may be to get a job, start a ministry, open or expand a business, pursue an education, widen our network or influence – it could be a million things.

     Joseph of the OT was a person faced with such a door – although perhaps it didn’t appear to be a really great opportunity when he was suddenly hauled out of prison and commanded by Pharaoh to interpret his dream. But Joseph seized the day and warned Pharaoh about the seven years of plenty to come, followed by seven years of famine. However, he didn’t stop there. Joseph took the opportunity to advise Pharaoh as to how to solve the impending famine crisis and so was promoted to second in command in all of Egypt. Who saw that coming?

     God.

     “’What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open . . .’” (Rev. 3:7).

     Promotion. There are times when the Lord presents a “door” in the form of a promotion. But is a “promotion” really that different from an “opportunity? Yes. An opportunity is usually a “new” thing; generally, a person has already walked through a door of opportunity – as with a career – and gone in a new direction. However, a promotion is a second door, an advancement within that career (or business or ministry or school, etc.).

     The OT story of Esther is a good example. Esther was caught in a dragnet and cast into the middle of a rather unconventional beauty pageant, the “prize” being that the winner would become the new queen of Persia. Not too shabby. But how is that an “opportunity”? Esther, a virtuous Jewish virgin, was essentially kidnapped and thrown into the King’s harem and would be required, without the benefit of marriage, to sleep with a man who, king or no king, was a stranger. And then, if the king didn’t like her, Esther would spend the rest of her life in the harem; there’d be no husband, no children, and her reputation among her people would be, well, rather tarnished. Nevertheless, “when the turn came for Esther . . . to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her” (Esther 2:15). Point? Esther could have mourned and grieved and rebelled against the circumstances but she didn’t. Many of the other girls might have done that but Esther chose to make the most of the opportunity to learn the language, the politics, and the workings of the palace. It was in making that deliberate choice that gave Esther the favor of God and also the favor of the king. In the end, Esther was promoted to the position of Queen of the Persian Empire.

     What’s the lesson? “Doors,” whether they present as rescues, opportunities or promotions, often have two things in common: the “doors” are often sudden and unexpected, and they always require a response from us. We don’t have to cooperate with the rescue as Peter did when he chose to walk through the open prison door (note that the angel didn’t drag him through it). We don’t have to take the opportunities to serve with good attitudes the way Joseph and Esther did – despite their captivities. And we don’t have to accept the promotion when it’s offered as Joseph and Esther did – even though promotions often require added responsibilities and work. This year God has revealed that He will be opening doors of rescue, opportunity, and promotion.

     The question is – will you walk through them?

Pick Your Pain.

Girl's Eye In WindowWe increasingly live in a world where people are separated into two camps: there are those who understand that for that “dream come true” scenario to happen, you have to work – and there are those who either don’t know that or don’t care to know that. Their dreams are just “supposed” to happen.  

     The fact is, you are your own fairy godmother; you’re the one with the wand. If you choose not to use it, then the dream won’t happen. Period.

     Why do people not want to work? Because work is, well, work. It requires sacrifice: it requires doing things we often don’t like, it requires long hours, it requires inconvenience, it requires putting up with unpleasant circumstances or (dare I say it?) people, it requires going without. It isn’t always fun. And it’s sad how “fun” seems to be the new standard in terms of which activities are of value and which are not.

In short, work is painful. We give up something now in order to get something later. That’s how it works.

     Or it doesn’t.

     We can play now – and then have to work twice as hard later. That’s painful – especially when everyone else we know is reaping success now because they didn’t play when it was time to work. Working to save money comes to mind – or at least not spending gobs of it when you don’t have it to spend or you’ll need it later in life. We may not have enough to save early on but then we shouldn’t be spending what we don’t have. Want a reason? Because “later” always comes.

     Pick your pain.

     We can play now – and then regret a missed opportunity later. I’ve said it before and I’ll hammer on it again and again: there’s no pain greater than regret. Skipping that job opportunity or business op because it would require too much work. Or missing that opportunity to go to school when you had the chance – or (here’s a thought) to learn something while you’re there. (I always tell kids that if you’re going to college to party, stay home; it’s stupid to take out loans to party.)   Opportunities take work!

     Pick your pain.

     The ridiculous idea that we can go through life without pain is more than just a stupid concept; it’s destructive. More and more people are becoming angry at the concept that they must work to achieve. When people can’t handle the voluntary pain and sacrifice of hard work, then they end up with the inevitable pain and heartache of having declined the opportunity to work.

     Here’s the bottom line: you can endure good pain and reap the satisfaction and profits of it or you can suffer bad pain and reap the sorrow and tragedy of it. There aren’t any other choices.

     Pick your pain. And choose wisely.

Get the Job Interview – Guaranteed!

Flower BasketIn the war for a job in competition with dozens of other people, how do you even get an interview – which is the key to “selling” yourself?  The answer?  You have to set yourself apart and stand out big from the rest of the job-hunting pack.

Recently we discussed how crucial it is to have an impeccable resume but the truth is, an impressive resume itself won’t guarantee you an interview; it just reduces your chances of being immediately eliminated. But don’t despair because there is a way to get yourself and your name, not only noticed, but remembered.

Back in the day when I worked in advertising developing campaigns and doing promotions, copywriting, etc., we all understood one thing: “Presentation is everything.” Anyone will buy anything as long as that thing is presented the right way. For example, say someone gives you a beautiful piece of jewelry and they present it in a plain white box and simply hand it to you. Okay – that’s nice. But what if they placed that same piece of jewelry into an elegant velvet jewelry box and wrapped that jewelry box in satiny white paper and tied it all up with a gold satin bow? Better, right? Same piece of jewelry but different message. The message the fancy packaging conveys is, “I cared enough to invest time in making this special because I care about you.” That’s what employers are looking for: someone who cares enough to strive for excellence. And your packaging will communicate that.

Choc-Basket-2Not too long ago, Hallmark hit on a winning ad campaign to sell their very expensive cards. Remember the tag, “When you care enough to send the very best”? They’ve been using that slogan for years because it works. In the same way, you can use the “usual” packaging for your resume – maybe a nice envelope that matches your resume paper or – you can stand out, show you car.

Some years ago, I wanted a job as assistant promotions’ director for our local ABC affiliate television station. So I did the resume thing with my signature paper, an elegant, pale gold parchment, but I wanted something more, something that showed the creativity I knew they were looking for in this position. And I knew that if I waited to get the interview to tell them how creative I am, I might never get the chance. As we writers always say, “Show, don’t tell.” So I found a big white box and filled it with fun things like nice chocolates (separately wrapped pieces, btw) and a few other things, including my resume and cover letter. But I also included a couple of helium-filled balloons (thus the bigger box) and lots of shiny confetti so that when the director opened the box, the balloons would pop out. I got the interview but I also got a vivid description of how long it took the director to get the confetti out of her rug. (Lesson: maybe don’t use confetti.) 

An additional plus for you when sending a presentation package is the benefit of walking into the interview with confidence.

There are lots of ways to make a creative presentation and granted, it’s going to be different for various industries. For jobs that are more conservative than creative, I would stick with a nice flower arrangement or a coffee/tea basket (always include both beverages). Featured prominently, of course, in the midst of any of it, would be your resume and cover letter. Protect those, if necessary, by putting them into a plastic cover or an appropriately-sized cardboard or metal tube (check any craft store).

A while back, I applied for a radio job for which I’d need both a resume and audition tapes and, as always, I suspected the competition might be stiff. So, in order to at least get my foot in the door, I sent a coffee/tea basket with some goodies and my application items. I got that interview as well, along with some comments about how much everyone enjoyed the goodies. Even the receptionist who answered my call recognized my name from the basket and thanked me for sending it. In the end, I didn’t get that job – I wasn’t the best qualified – but at least I got the opportunity to pitch my game. And I met some very nice people.

An additional plus for you when sending a presentation package (besides getting the interview) is the benefit of walking into the interview with confidence. You’ve already set yourself apart from other applicants in the employer’s eyes so you already have an advantage. And you’ll all know it.

Creative ideas are limitless and don’t have to cost a lot of money. If not a present box, a basket or a flower arrangement, consider sending a nice box of chocolates or one of those fresh fruit arrangements that looks like a flower arrangement. (They’ll remember that.) Whatever you do, keep it tasteful and make sure that what it conveys is your ability and desire to go that extra mile to get things done; make certain it shows that you care. 

Oh, and post-script – do not forget the “thank you” note after the interview. It doesn’t have to be mushy – just a “thanks for the opportunity; I enjoyed meeting you” message.  However, if you’re one of those people whose motto is: “I don’t do thank you notes,” it’s your call.  Just remember that the ones who do write them will be the ones who get remembered.

I’ll end with this word of encouragement: I have never used a presentation package and not gotten an interview. After all, if you were the employer, wouldn’t you, at the very least, want to check out the person who just sent you a big box of chocolates? 

You know you would.