Opportunity, in its simplest form, is defined as a chance for progress or advancement; a favourable possibility of success. But, in order to take advantage of opportunities you must be prepared. You can’t rely on hopeful expectation. You must actively choose to pursue opportunities.
When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare. When you are not reflecting or looking within your soul, you are not prepared for the good, bad and ugly that most certainly will arise during the course of your life. However, when we’re conscious of our own life and what’s going on in our soul, we’re set to take the learning and failings and draw the positives out of both. To make us stronger, wiser and better ready.
Here are some practical ways you can prepare for and create opportunities.
“When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare”.
The Power of Reflection
#1 Reflection turns Experience into Insight
Reflection is a chance to reset yourself, prepare and enrich yourself for success. By consciously reflecting on an event or experience you are able to highlight a potential opportunity or encourage a strength. It’s important to take time to pause, understand what your experiences are trying to tell you and make positive changes.
“We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience”. John Dewey
#2 Choose a time to reflect and learn
We all need to create a thinking place, a place you can allow yourself to settle and reflect. Reflection can take many forms and encompasses many activities. Working with a mentor – where the mentor guides your reflection through questioning – is one of the most effective ways of learning through reflection. You might prefer journaling and writing down your ideas as you reflect and learn. This is a great way to discover opportunities hidden from your conscious self.
#3 Pausing with purpose stimulates positive thoughts
Often we are caught up in the troubles and busyness of our lives. Reflection will allow you to sort through your experiences, put it into perspective, and plan for opportunities. I wholeheartedly believe that a minute of thought is worth an hour of talk.
When you reflect on the things you did right, on your success, you shift your focus from failure to success. Boosting your confidence and enthusiasm. You will be able to open your mind to new possibilities and opportunities.
Preparing yourself for future opportunities
Gestalt psychology provides an excellent example of preparing for opportunities. They say we are responsible for getting caught in the rain. They say that by deciding not to carry an umbrella every day, we have made the decision to endure an occasional drench.
Translation? By not anticipating to potential opportunities, by not being prepared, we make the choice of getting caught in some of life’s unpleasant circumstances, failures and challenges. By being prepared, we increase our chances of success. We significantly increase the likelihood of seizing opportunities when they come our way.
Stay informed about development in your field: To anticipate future opportunities, you need to stay informed about what’s going on with your fields of interest. What are the trends? Where are the opportunities right now? Keep up with the news. Go local and global, don’t be limited by your geography. Subscribe to newsletters and magazines. Do your research and talk to people. Information is your most valuable asset.
Write your Braveheart pitch
A brief persuasive speech you need to have ready for when opportunity knocks. Explain what makes you and your business unique, relevant and how you can solve their problems. Follow these steps:
Identify your goal.
Explain what you do.
Communicate your USP.
Engage with a question.
Put it all together.
“Every man dies, not every man truly lives”. William Wallace
The greatest opportunity is NOT out there, it’s already within you. Have your battle cry ready and call people to action.
Build your platform/portfolio
You can do this now. Look for writing and speaking opportunities. Start a blog and create a meaningful discussion on social media. You need a place to connect with your audience. That’s how you get the attention you need for your products and services.
Focus on relationship-building
Networking is always important. Not only must you broaden your list of contacts, you must deepen the connection. Strengthen the relationship. Share some of your specialised knowledge and expertise. Give people a chance to get to know and trust you.
Determine how you are going to create value
Value is what makes someone decide to work with you, to buy from you and to invest in you. Ask yourself: how am I going to create real value for others in my chosen field? Pay attention to what exactly your potential clients find compelling. Deliver that compelling offer in a better way.
Characteristics of people constantly expecting opportunities:
Resourceful. They do all they can in preparation for all that is coming.
They develop a plan, follow the plan and rework it until it fits.
They don’t understand the word “no” when something is standing in front of their vision for the future.
Always see the future in the present.
Take advantage of a situation and not be burdened by it.
Not waiting for opportunities, but actively looking for it.
Always finding a way to actively work toward their ambition.
As an entrepreneur, you have to create your own craft and become a change agent. A change agent is someone that disrupt the environment, by creating a culture that enables and equips people to go beyond the realms of possibility. Four signs you are a change agent:
Focused: Having the ability to stay focused on your passion and purpose.
Detailed: You are meticulous in your approach, no stone goes unturned. You always have a well thought out, flexible plan for achieving your passion or purpose.
Energised: You disrupt the ordinary and have a fierce fire to achieve the extraordinary. You prepare and enrich others. You ignite passions.
Leave a Legacy: Creating a legacy that is eternal. You are constantly looking at ways you can leave value, while creating and instigating positive change.
The whole point of opportunities is so you can leverage your own growth and create the life that you want. Keep your eyes open and your mind active to seize opportunities. Often, opportunities do come our way, but most of the time we have to create them. Do your homework, do your research. Be prepared for the opportunities that will come. Have the courage to shape who you are, so you can reach out to the marketplace in an area that needs your help and guidance.
How to consistently take advantage of the opportunities you have created:
Face life with your eyes and ears open to the possibilities that may be just around the corner. There are opportunities in all areas of life. Study new skills and market yourself to people who might need help in those areas.
Keep your mind active
Keep learning, keep studying and keep reading. Make it a habit. This is how you grow. Challenging your brain with these mental exercises help stimulate communication among your brain cells. By keeping your mind active you’ll be confident enough and creative enough to seize opportunities that present themselves.
Research beyond the obvious
To find new prospects and gain a competitive edge in your business you need to see things differently. Use unconventional resources to help you see things most people overlook. Go out and meet people outside of your field. People from different fields can provide a fresh perspective.
By finding connections between seemingly unrelated events or trends you can connect the dots and recognise opportunities. By noticing various events in your external world and then utilising your cognitive framework, which you’ve developed through experiences, you can determine if these events are related in any way. When you find the pattern, you find your opportunity.
“Success always comes when preparation meet opportunity”. Henry Hartman
Taking advantage of opportunities requires two things:
Creativity to see what’s out there and shape it to your advantage. You need creativity to look at the world differently and take a different approach. How can I be more creative?
Get out of your head: Unblock your creativity by writing down your thoughts. Purge the angry, whiny and petty things holding you back. Let your hand move over the page and write whatever comes into your mind. See the pages as a pathway to a clear and creative outlet.
Immerse yourself in nature: The more time you spend in nature, away from the stresses of daily life, the greater your level of creativity becomes. Nature is a place where your mind can rest, relax and have resources for problem solving.
A mentor can help re-ignite our creative spark by identifying and removing barriers to creativity. Your mentor can stimulate solution-focused thinking by guiding you through the process of discovery and effective decision making.
The courage to be creative and see things differently; going against the crowd. To stand alone if you have to. Choosing activity over ease. Stay focused on results. Keep doing the hard things, even after others are merely doing what’s comfortable
Don’t simply think about doing something, go out and do it. There is no perfect time to take action. Just do it, observe the feedback and then modify your next action accordingly. Successful people don’t just take action, they choose action. Have the discipline to choose activity over ease.
Whatever you want to achieve, remember to keep on taking action. Keep on doing something outside of your comfort zone. While taking action you will learn to use your creativity. When you learn you improve. When you improve you become more effective and more efficient. Effective and efficient people immediately take hold of opportunities, because they’ve been preparing for it.
Opportunities are all around you, even when they aren’t you have the power to create them. Use reflection to highlight potential opportunities. Keep your eyes open and your mind active. Have your elevator pitch ready and be courageous enough to go against the crowd.
“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas A. Edison
What can you do today to prepare for the opportunities that are right around the corner?