Saturday, 10 December 2016

How to Recognize and Seize Opportunity

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -- Thomas Edison

Be prepared for and be ready to take any and every opportunity that comes your way. At times what may appear to you as big obstacles are actually opportunities in disguise. Mr. Lair Ribero in his book “Success is not Accident” tells the story of two Shoe-Salesmen who were sent overseas to search for new markets. Their first stop was a country where everyone was barefoot. The first Salesman sent back a telegram to the home office saying “leaving tomorrow, no one wears shoes.” The second Salesman’s telegram was different. He said, “Great potential market, no competition.” Visualize the success stories of these two Salesmen and you will get to appreciate how we differ from one another by the way we perceive every situation. When any situation is properly perceived, it becomes an opportunity. This is the reason why some people can make it in a particular business while some others fail abysmally in same business. They choose what they see and see what they choose. Where some see obstacles, others see opportunities. Where some see despair, others see hope. Where some see darkness, others see light. Where some see a cup half-empty, others see same cup half-full. When some see why it can’t be done, others see how it can be done. When some see the end, others see the beginning. When some perceive sadness, others perceive happiness. Where some expect poverty, others expect wealth. Somehow, life tends to give to us exactly what we expect from it in proportionate measures and nothing more. According to the late British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty.”

Opportunities abound everywhere for those who take the pains to look. The story of two young men I ran into sometime in July 2002 can best illustrate this point. I ran into the two young men in a restaurant in Benin City and we got talking. I found out that the two of them, who turned out to be good friends, were about the same age and had similar academic qualifications. They had both just lost their banking jobs for no fault of theirs. We talked at length and we exchanged telephone numbers. Being Professionals like me, I was interested in their progress and I advised them from my own experience. As at November 2005 when I made detailed inquiries about their welfare, their progress in life became very interesting to me. One of them decided to work for himself while the other kept looking for a job. At the time I made contact, the one who decided to work for himself had bought an additional car, had married and was raising a family. The other one had sold his car and other valuable property. He was still single and searching for a job. His situation was quite pathetic. I was told that he was barely surviving on hand-outs from his friends. I also learned that he was “dreaming” of relocating abroad. I fervently hoped that it was not another pipe-dream. You may wish to recall that this story is about two close friends. They both had a near-similar background and were at a time faced with the same problem. One saw an opportunity, seized it and prospered while the other failed to and was paying the price. I sincerely hoped that the “failing-one” will make up his mind to do what is right. The moral of this story is that one took his destiny in his own hands; recognized and seized the opportunities that came his way. The other did not and he was paying the price of his failure to do so. Similar stories are everywhere in our society but with some variations. Remember, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” The story of these two friends is a pointer to what can happen to us when we fail to recognize and seize opportunities.

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