I heard someone say ‘Opportunity doesn’t knock. It waits silently by, waiting to be recognized. It often goes unnoticed because it looks like an unfair exchange.”
Through life experiences I tend to agree with this definition of opportunity. I think people sometimes wait for their opportunities to chase them down and overtake them. While that can happen, many opportunities are right in front of us and we either look over them or pass them because they don’t look like what we think they should look like.
An example I can think of is when I joined the Toastmaster group at my previous job. The group was small and had some great people in it. Everyone enjoyed helping each other get better at public speaking and as a group we all had positive attitudes.
By joining the group, I got to practice making speeches off the cuff and became good at table topics – giving a 2-minute speech with a surprise topic at the end of every meeting. I didn’t see this as a great opportunity to chase but based on my new definition of opportunity I saw where it was an unfair exchange to participate. What made it unfair was I loved public speaking and was very comfortable doing it in that small group setting. Others didn’t like it as much which gave me the chance to practice, practice, practice.
What came from participating in this activity was an invitation to speak at an alumni association meeting by a fellow Toastmaster. I thought it would be an event where I could give a speech or presentation and have a chance to meet some new people and network a little. Remember, opportunity doesn’t knock – it waits silently by waiting to be recognized. At the event I got up, completed my presentation/speech, and took my seat. I got so many compliments on my presentation style and my energetic, engaging presence that the MBA director came to me and asked me would I be interested in doing some teaching. What he didn’t know was that I had tried for a couple of years to break into teaching at the university that sponsored the event.
That conversation turned into me getting the opportunity to create a course for the university. After teaching the course and getting great reviews, I thought “Wow, all of that from Toastmasters.” Now, I’m not only teaching additional courses, I’m getting ready to propose another course to start next spring – doing something I love to do in a place I had difficulty breaking into until I leveraged an opportunity I didn’t realize I had.