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I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one. Mark Twain

This problem of not seeing opportunity till it has passed by is a common refrain made by almost all of us. To understand this phenomena listen to the comments of those actively trading in the stock markets. Most of them are forever talking about missing out on buying or selling opportunities and ruing their poor judgment. The fact is that on hindsight many a decision made by us looks terrible. Grabbing opportunities is all about making the correct decisions that are appropriate for the situation. A simple example is the concept of bargaining while purchasing. While the seller has a better grasp of the prices, the buyer especially a casual buyer estimates the price partly emotionally, partly using logic and mainly by gut feeling. Later, if he is applauded for his bargain he will rue not buying more or if he is chastened for his misadventure or exorbitant price will curse the poor judgment exercised in chasing a perceived opportunity.

If we analyze the reasons why we rarely grab the right opportunities we make some interesting discoveries. Top of the list are two emotions greed and fear that have a disproportionate influence in us missing out on opportunities. When greed overcomes our sensibilities we wait in hope that something better will come our way. Unfortunately we are rarely clear about what is something better and worse how do we identify it. In the end we are left with a sinking feeling of having missed an opportunity. Fear paralyzes us; which translates into no action or reaction. If opportunities are to be grabbed we need to either act or react to the opportunities that come our way.  As someone put it in verse’ Sitting still and waiting; makes no person great. The good Lord sends the fishing; but we must dig the bait.

Our inability or unwillingness to change or cope with change has a major bearing on our ability to grasp the opportunities that we can see coming our way. Change disturbs the equilibrium and smooth flow that our life is used to. We are reluctant to adopt or adapt to change since we are wary of the consequences of change. Grasping opportunities invariably means coping with a changed scenario and hence we let slip many an opportunity because we cannot bear the thought of coping with the changes. We miss out on new job opportunities that involve a change of city or change of job profile; as we grow older we are reluctant to adapt to the changes brought about by technology unless forced to.  Finally indecision is what really stops us from seeking out and pursuing opportunities. We are indecisive either because we lack confidence in ourselves or because we are incapable of taking decisions due to lack of empowerment or fear of consequences. We vacillate between alternatives; suffer from paralysis by analysis syndrome or seek to get ratification of our decisions so that we escape all responsibility.

Opportunities abound and if we have to grab it the first thing is to seek it out. Every hurdle and difficulty is both a challenge and an opportunity. Ask the inventors and patent holders and they will confess that the opportunity presented itself in the problem and tackling it provided the opportunity to prove themselves. Opportunities exist in other simpler forms like making improvements; thinking radically differently, cost savings, increasing efficiencies, finding niche segments etc.  Pause, scan the environment and take chances for nothing dared – nothing gained is the mantra that opens the doors to opportunities; grab it before the door shuts on it.

Remember: “Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.” Bruce Marton

Try this:

  1. If you get an opportunity to be part of a Television Show would you take up the offer?  If the opportunity is to be part of a reality show which one of the three would you choose Fear Factor, Big Brother or Who wants to be a Millionaire ( or the equivalent of the three on Indian TV channels)
  2. Which of the opportunities will you select from the following two options?
  • You are given a new job offer with thrice the present benefits but it involves relocating to an interior Naxalite / Maoist dominated village or
  • You get an offer that gives you 1.5 times your present benefits but involves travelling 2 hours one way and you are to replace a person who was a former classmate and close friend who is not aware that he is losing his job if you take up the offer.

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Bobby Jacob

Bobby Jacob

‘ He hopes to have a positive influence on his readers through his blog posts’

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