Look even casually at anyone you truly admire for having met with success and you’ll undoubtedly find a person who given an opportunity, made a conscious decision to seize it.
There are the athletes who train hard outside the limelight and put in hours when it’s just themselves and their strength and conditioning programs. There are the explorers who took risks heading off into the then unknown with hopes of what they might find to fuel their dreams. There are the students in school who place themselves in the hands of others to learn, become educated and lay the groundwork for their individual futures. What binds them all together is the choice they made to place themselves in positions to succeed.
Not everyone however recognizes the opportunities before them or makes the decisions you and I might assume they would to better themselves. We can look around and easily find students in Universities and Colleges who have a lack of investment in the learning before them. We can readily find athletes with potential who become complacent; who settle for mediocre, would rather party than continue to commit to the regime of training and self-discipline that had them formerly on the rise.
From the outside, it’s often clear when we look at others who is committed and who is not; who is seizing opportunity with both hands and who is squandering that which may or may not come again.
What is harder and less appealing is to look at ourselves. We don’t always recognize real opportunities when they lay before us, and even when we do, isn’t it the case that we often squander them? The reasons? Perhaps a lack of money, courage, self-motivation, reluctance to put in the hard work required, competing commitments etc. For those that squander chances and opportunities, there’s always a reason.
I work with people in receipt of social assistance, most of whom are unemployed and some of whom are underemployed in part-time jobs both in and outside their fields of training, education and interest. You might assume that every one of these people would be looking to improve their financial situation; looking to get back to being gainfully employed and productively contributing to the society in which they live as a result. You’d be wrong. Just like in any other group of people, you’ll find the highly motivated and the ones letting opportunities pass them by.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the distinct privilege to work closely with 10 unemployed people who are looking for employment. Each of the 10 had the same introduction to the two weeks given to them individually. They heard that one of my key expectations was that they must want a job more than I want it for them to be successful. They were even advised that if they didn’t want to put in the work required, I’d rather they didn’t choose to join in, and no penalty would befall them for turning the opportunity down. Now of these 10, there wasn’t one who didn’t agree.
Things being what they are however; and yes you’ve probably guessed it, not all 10 seized this opportunity with the same enthusiasm. At the end of the first week I asked everyone in the group to share how many jobs they’d applied to, how many calls they’d made and how many interviews they’d had. While each person reported at least some achievement, one person reported no calls made, no jobs applied to and not surprisingly no interviews forthcoming. Puzzling.
This isn’t the place to share all the background I explored and learned for reasons of confidentiality however, I can say with conviction that this is an opportunity squandered. Sure there’s personal factors; there always are. Not one of the 10 in the group doesn’t have barriers to overcome and in this they are just normal people like you and I. Everybody has challenges; things that we either face, struggle with and commit to overcoming or things we choose to give power over us.
Now what of you? What’s your personal situation at the moment? I’m willing to say that you’ve got something now before you that is an opportunity hanging in the balance. It might be an employment program, a return to school, a job that would need a move on your part, an apprenticeship, a course to upgrade a licence or certificate. You might have put off this opportunity for a long time too, and with the passage of time you’re feeling that chance is now becoming more remote than ever. But it still keeps nagging at you.
Is it your age, wondering how you’d pay to go back to school and still pay the mortgage and provide for the family? Is it not wanting to have wasted the education you have already which at one time you thought would set you on your career path? Maybe it’s that your afraid of the pressure it takes to throw yourself back into a determined job search; pressure being something that has in the past triggered your dependency on drugs to cope with; a path you don’t want to revisit.
The good thing about opportunities is that they come to us all the time. You’ve got several before you today in fact. Today – yes today – could be the very day you make a decision to seize one.