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Seizing Opportunity

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! Go out and seek opportunity. You always regret the things you didn't do. We often hear these phrases tossed about as (sometimes misguided) advice about taking risk and living life to the fullest. Well, I'm not telling you to out and take risks or seek new opportunities. If that's your thing, then by all means, don't let me, or anyone else, stop you. Unless it is something incredibly stupid, like free-climbing super tall buildings (these guys... http://ontheroofs.com/). Then by all means, let someone stop you. But not seeking out risky ventures or new opportunities doesn't mean not taking opportunities when they present themselves, or at least making your interest known. I from recent personal experience on this.

 Philosopher, Zeno of Citium. Founder of Stoicism 

Philosopher, Zeno of Citium. Founder of Stoicism 

I tend to be an extremely stoic person. I do not show much excitement about things, even when I genuinely am interested in or excited by something. This is something that my wife often finds irritating about me. We talk to make plans to go to a new place for dinner or are trying to plan a vacation. She finds something that is a great deal and would be a fun trip, then presents it to me. My reaction? Usually, "Yeah, we could do that," or "Sounds fun." No voice inflection, no "Wow, that looks cool!" And the opportunity passes us by, leaving me wondering why we didn't follow through with what we were discussing and Ashley disappointed and saying, "You just didn't seem that excited by it," or "I thought you weren't interested." While this does get old, it is not normally something to get too upset over. We do eventually find something to do (sometimes she finds an even better vacation deal), and we are none the worse for it. However, this stoicism recently came back and bit me on the rear. HARD. Let me tell you about it so you can learn from my mistake. Grammar Nazis (myself included), please excuse the upcoming passive voice...

Not long ago, I was presented with a work opportunity. "2017 is off to a great start," I thought. As I spoke with the offeror, I worked at keeping my voice steady and not sounding overly excited or eager. I let them know that I needed to think about the decision of taking on the extra work. Upon getting off the phone, I promptly called my wife and excitedly (calmly) explained the opportunity. After discussing it, I decided I was definitely interested and able to take on the work. Here is where I went wrong, however. I convinced myself that making a quick decision was the wrong move and that I needed to think about it more. Mix in some hubris because of my connection with the offeror, and you have a recipe for disappointment. I waited too long to voice my interest and lost out on the opportunity. They genuinely thought I was not interested because of the delay in communication despite having ample opportunity. So by the time I voiced my interest, a decision had already been made. In my opinion, taking a week to think things over was not unreasonable, and it certainly may not have been, BUT, to the person extending the opportunity, that week of silence spoke volumes.

Don't worry, this isn't just a sob story; I learned an important lesson that I want to pass along so budding entrepreneurs can learn from my mistake without having to make the same mistake. You don't have to immediately dive into whatever presents itself, but if you have even a slight interest, act on it. If that opportunity is someone offering you a job but you need to think on it, be up front about that, but don't leave it open-ended. Set a specific deadline for giving a solid answer and communicate that deadline to the offeror. As for an entrepreneurial opportunity, companies start when entrepreneurs spot a problem to which they believe they have a solution. So if you see a problem and believe you have that solution, don't sit around mulling it over, act on it. If you saw the problem and developed a solution, chances are high that someone else recognized the need as well. The longer you sit and ponder whether you have a good idea or whether to pursue that idea, the farther behind you fall. Am I saying quit your job and dive headfirst into it? No! "Seizing opportunity" doesn't have to be that drastic. Acting on your idea can be as simple as surveying the market to see if consumers will actually purchase your solution. Well, simple relative to fully developing a product and starting a business. You don't want to spend copious amounts of time and money to bring the wrong product to market. If you've taken this step already, then move forward with finding a team to develop and launch the product! Keep taking steps forward.

So stop being stoic, show interest, take action, take a risk, whatever you need to do to seize the opportunity presented. Opportunity doesn't always knock only once, but why risk it? 

Matthew GoingsComment