Can you identify your opportunity when it comes?

The story is told of a young man who wished to marry the farmer’s beautiful daughter. He went to the farmer to ask his permission. The farmer looked him over and responded, “Son, go stand out in that field and I’m going to release three bulls, one at a time. If you can catch the tail of any one of the three bulls, you can marry my daughter.” The young man stood in the pasture awaiting the first bull. The barn door opened and out ran the biggest, meanest-looking bull he had ever seen. He decided that one of the next bulls had to be a better choice than this one, so he ran over to the side and let the bull pass through the pasture out the back gate. The barn door opened again. Unbelievable. He had never seen anything so big and fierce in his life. It stood – pawing the ground, grunting, slinging slobber – as it eyed him. Whatever the next bull was like, it had to be a better choice than this one. He ran to the fence and let the bull pass through the pasture, out the back gate. The door opened a third time. A smile came across his face. This was the weakest, scrawniest little bull he had ever seen. This one was his bull. As the bull came running by, he positioned himself just right and jumped at just the exact moment. He grabbed… but the bull had no tail!

Thomas A. Edison said that “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” What if you were staring straight into the face of a glorious opportunity and you did not even know it? Life is full of opportunities. Some will be easy to take advantage of, some will be difficult. But once we let them pass (often in hopes of something better), those opportunities may never again be available. Many people think that opportunity looks like an easy grab that will powerfully and instantly sweep them toward fame and fortune with minimum effort. That could easily describe fantasy because in reality opportunity looks like hard work. Opportunity often looks like problems, friction and hard times. It can look messy. Most times, it is something you don’t particularly want to do. It looks uncomfortable, challenging and risky. It has the look of roughness and does not come with a guarantee. Would you recognise opportunity if you saw it?

Recognising an opportunity

Opportunity is defined as a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. The business dictionary defines it as “exploitable set of circumstances with uncertain outcome, requiring commitment of resources and involving exposure to risk.” Some of the reasons why you may be struggling today as you try to locate a breakthrough opportunity could simply be that when the opportunity came you failed to recognise it, or if you recognised it you failed to value it and squandered it recklessly. Opportunities come in various formats ranging from idle time, relationships, training, learning, travel and growth amongst many others. As we cross over into the second half year we should take time to consider how we have measured or judged the people that God brought into our lives to assist us. The reason you may still be stuck in the situation you are in could be because you rejected your answer to prayer when it appeared because they didn’t look, speak, think, dress or walk like you. There is a huge cost to abusing opportunities, squandering opportunities and relationships through greed, using people and wrong priorities. Time thieves, poorly regulated interruptions, procrastination and over-extended lives also top the list of reasons why we lose opportunities in life. It is important to make the most of our opportunities because it is not always ignorance that causes us to lose our opportunities but often it is our irresponsible attitudes when we get the opportunities.

Should you grab every opportunity that comes?

What should you do when an unexpected opportunity–a new client, a new direction, or a new relationship comes knocking? Should you leap at the chance? There are questions that you can use to assess which opportunities to take. How does this opportunity benefit you? What is the worst possible outcome you could have from this opportunity? Can you take on this opportunity and still fulfil existing obligations? What will this opportunity prevent you from doing? Almost any opportunity comes with opportunity costs, so what are the costs here? Will it take you away from other work you want to do? Time spent with your family? Exploring new markets or new business directions? How does this opportunity fit into your long-term goals? This is probably the most important question of all. You have a mission, a vision, and several goals, both for the coming year and for the long term. How does this opportunity fit in with that mission, vision, and those goals? Will it help support at least one of these, or is it a detour? If this opportunity doesn’t move you toward fulfilling your vision or meeting your goals, it may be better to pass it by.

Opportunities are not always popular

There are many stories to tell about successful entrepreneurs who, despite rejection and disappointment, forged ahead with purpose and seized their opportunity. An example is FedEx founder Fred Smith who while attending Yale University, wrote a paper on the need for reliable overnight delivery in a computerized information age. His professor found the premise improbable, and to the best of Smith’s recollection, he only received a grade of C for the effort, but the idea stayed with him. Jim Rohn said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” And this is why you must embrace your opportunity regardless of how it looks to others or what they say about it.

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