Opportunity is always beside us, no matter the difficulty of the situation. But, it’s rare that we take the chance to look.
The Story of The Touchstone ~ Author Unknown.
When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.
The book wasn’t very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the Touchstone!
The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.
So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.
He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold – throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.
The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about mid-afternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along he still threw it away.
So it is with opportunity.
Unless we are vigilant, it’s easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it’s just as easy to throw it away.
How To Apply Opportunity.
Within each situation lies opportunity. Before labeling a situation, take a step back and pull yourself out of the situation. Don’t personalize it, and just take a step back. Try and analyze it from a far and look for the gold within the situation. Instead of looking for the misfortunes, see where there is opportunity for you to grow, discover, learn or reflect from what just happened.
If you’re willing to look you; no matter the difficulty of the situation – there will be opportunity.
I would constantly make the situation I was in difficult because I was only focusing on the negative aspects of the situation. I would focus on the bad instead of looking for the opportunity. But with consistent practice, and taking the time to look at each situation from the standpoint of opportunity – I learned to become conscious of the opportunities that were always there.
- Whenever I feel I failed at my work – I look at how to improve, and apply what I learned for the next time.
- Whenever I get into arguments with the people I love and care about – I reflect on how I can be stay more grounded, be open to listening, and be understanding of the person and their situation.
- Whenever I become sick – I see how much I take my health for granted, and can appreciate how it great it feels to be healthy. This let’s me look into ways to improve my health and take care of my body.
- Whenever I begin a bad habit, like eating junk food or stop taking care of myself both physically and mentally – I see the opportunity to learn about my triggers, and look at my behaviour and why I acted the way I did. This experience let’s me see how I can practice, and avoid these bad habits so I can make better decisions.
It can be hard to see the opportunity while you are in a difficult or hectic situation – but you can reflect at anytime. Take some time to reflect afterwards, and see what you have learned from the situation and what you can apply for next time.
How To Find Opportunity:
1. Forget that you KNOW. Be curious. The moment you are under the impression you know something, you will begin brush it off. If you think you know something, then you will not bother to look anymore, because you already know it – it will be brushed off or ignored. Alternatively, if you don’t know you become open to the opportunities that come from not knowing. Your curiosity is what allows you to discover these unmarked territories. And being curious of everything allows you to dig deeper.
2. Take action. When opportunity presents itself, hold on. Don’t let it slip through your hands and take action when you see opportunity. Act when it comes your way, and don’t just look at it.
If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on. ~ Sheryl Sandberg
3. Challenge your reading. You can find many opportunities when you challenge what you read. Read something different and challenging. This is an opportunity waiting to be discovered. Read random things that have interest from Wikipedia, Stumbleupon or Google Scholar. See if you can find books, academic research or studies based on your interests. Very few challenge their reading and get out of their comfort.
4. Get out of your bubble. Forget your comfort zone and try something new – anything. Take a different route home, talk to a random stranger (you’ll never know what you can learn), listen to a new type of genre, read a different book (step 3). Things happen outside of your comfort zone. The only way to find something new is to try something new.
5. Network, network and network. Not only can you meet interesting people, but everyone has something valuable to offer. Not only that, but you might have similar interests and work together in the future. Each person holds a unique perspective in multiple fields of study, and have rich life experience. The majority of people are nice and are willing to help if you can ask the right questions. People from different fields can give you fresh perspectives on what you haven’t considered before, and you can learn something in the process.
Let me know in the comments how you look for opportunity, and what has worked for you. I want to hear what opportunities you’ve found in difficult or hectic situations.