Why does it seem like some people are gifted in the area of having an easier life or more experiences and opportunities coming their way? Are they more magnetic than others in terms of attracting them? Actually, they are. However, the good news is that anyone can be in this situation.
When you think about looking from the outside into other people’s careers or lives, most people who are looking are doing so via the proverbial rose-colored glasses. In other words, they are not taking into consideration the how and why other people who seemingly have a charmed situation got there. I guarantee you it’s not the way you think they did.
Our perception of “how” other people have accomplished something is generally way off base from reality, and we typically envision that everything is much easier or convenient for someone else. Why do we do this? Because it’s nearly impossible to fully appreciate all of the experience and potential struggles it took someone to be a position which currently looks easy.
For example, we know that professional athletes spend decades preparing to participate at the level they are at, yet their career is generally one serious injury away from severely disrupting or ending their career. If they are fortunate enough to avoid or minimize their level of injuries, they have often done so via specialized training to strengthen their body to withstand injuries that non-professional athletes could not tolerated.
Depending on what your definition of career success is, and how you measure your success, the people you would classify as being successful in their profession arrived there as a result of many different and possible paths. The path all of them had in common was that they were all tenacious and persistent in their pursuits. Especially when they encountered setbacks. The setbacks which occurred are not always seen or appreciated by others, but play a critical part in the journey the individual was on.
I love the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”. This basic phrase deliciously packages and summarizes what I have heard some of the most accomplished people state over and over again. Perhaps not exactly this phrase, but the purest sentiment of it. When others would see their situation being fraught with difficulty due to obstacles of any kind, the people who encounter them, see them as opportunities to recalculate and recalibrate. When they do this, they are crafting opportunities which did not exist prior to the setback.
Instead of bemoaning what could have, should have or would have been, the people who are able to move past what happened are able to take back control, and retool their situation. In many cases, to have a far better opportunity appear. Some of the best inventions we now live with are classic examples of what prior to it existing was a result of a prior failed one (e.g., wheels, electricity, automobiles, computers, refrigerators). These are strong examples of someone being persistent and not allowing a setback, or many of them, to block their forward progress.
When I think about the leaders or sports coaches I have worked with, all of them would tell you they didn’t get to where they are alone. In fact, they are incredibly humble, and will often not take credit for what they have accomplished. They don’t claim to be luckier or able to outsmart others, but they do all possess what I would argue is also one of the key elements to making better opportunities appear. More importantly come to life for you, and others. The one element is their attitude. Not only is it a great attitude, it’s an admirable one.
These leaders and sports coaches also take ownership for when things go wrong. They are not looking for “scapegoats” to blame for what went wrong, and they are highly introspective and reflective about what they could have done better. This is a refreshing way of leading and motivating others. Namely because others are not operating in a state of fear of being blamed, and are intimidated by expressing their opinions and suggestions to support the team they are on. If you are lucky, you are, or have been on one of these teams. If you haven’t been on one yet, it might be time to start considering looking for one like this.
Now, let’s circle back to my initial statement about how do people make opportunities appear and benefit from them doing so? Here are some suggestions to guide you.
- There is no getting around the fact you might need to have an “attitude adjustment”. If you don’t think you need to have one, I recommend you ask someone you trust how your attitude is. If you can’t handle the truth about what you might hear, it’s likely that you do need an attitude adjustment.
- Being aware of your surroundings, circumstances and perceiving how you come across to others is critically important. If your level of awareness is “off”, it will make seeing opportunities harder to spot.
- Having a perfectionist attitude isn’t going to help you in the long run. You are far better off trying and failing than to constantly strive for perfection.
- Most opportunities are also in what might be referred to as a “grey area”, which is both hard to define, but you won’t see it if your “perfectionist meter” is set too high. Consider dialing it down to have more clarity into the “grey area” or “grey zone”.
- Walk away. Yes, literally do this, as often when you are too close to any situation, you need to step away to gain a different perspective and angle on how you could better capitalize on your situation. Think of the expression, “you can’t see the forest via the trees.”
- Are you seeing patterns in data or activities which others are not? This may or may not be something you are skilled at seeing. If you are, and you are not taking advantage of this, when you do, more opportunities will present themselves.
The how portion of capitalizing on opportunities is going to be dependent on your level of risk tolerance, ability to be timely with your opportunity appearing, and having the right support in place. Both mentally and physically, as most opportunities are more similar to a team sport versus an individual one. However, there are certainly exceptions, but the critical point to consider is to allow yourself to be openminded to appreciating you deserve to have lots of opportunities coming your way. In other words, have a mindset of bounty versus scarcity. You’ll be amazed at what can happen in your favor when you think this way.
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