We all live in the same world, we see the same things, we touch the same things and we hear the same things. I believe that no matter who you are, there are things going on around you that can be life changers if recognized. I remember many years ago I learned one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned at the counter of a glass shop. A friend and I were picking up a piece of glass and noticed the employees were moving furniture and supplies to a new building. I never thought anything of it but my friend asked them “so what’s happening to this old building?” The answer was they were going to have it torn down. It was an older but very good metal frame, metal skin building. My friend quickly glanced at me with eyebrows raised for a moment then turned back to the owner and asked “So who’s taking it down?” He said he wasn’t sure yet they were still getting bids for the work. My friend remarked “We’ll take it down for free!” Sensing a potential profit to be had the owner asked, how much we would give for it. Our answer was “we’re not giving you anything for it but if you are going to have to pay to have it removed, we’ll do it for free!” After about 5 minutes of negotiation we agreed to buy it for a dollar and by the weekend we were busy dismantling a very nice metal building. We split the materials and my friend built a 3 stall auto body shop with his share and I built a woodworking shop with mine.
The point of the matter was that I would have missed the opportunity completely, and I can’t tell you the number of people that wanted our building when they found out we had made a deal to get it. The lesson I learned that day in the glass shop was to keep my eyes and ears open to everything possible that was happening around me. The first step in taking advantage of an opportunity is to recognize when you’re near one. Since that day, I’ve tried my best to learn to spot opportunities. I’m still not as good at it as I would like to be, but it’s a fun hobby. Even if I don’t intend on following through on them all, I still try to hone my skill at recognizing opportunities when they present themselves. I’ve even turned friends onto opportunities that I’ve done all the leg work on. It’s okay, there’s plenty to go around.
Still, recognizing an opportunity is kind of like recognizing the “potential” in something. They say that all the potential in the world and 50 cents will buy you a cup of coffee and nothing more. ($1.50 these days) It’s no good to you if you don’t act on it. Here is the second problem, acting on the opportunity in front of you. I would say that if everyone became determined to find and pursue 3 opportunities each year, two within their comfort zone and one outside their comfort zone, they would discover more about themselves than nearly anything else they could do. Choosing to find an opportunity will open your eyes to possibilities around you that pass you by every day. Acting on an opportunity will make you feel vulnerable and energized all at the same time. It will unlock creativity that you may not know you had. Opportunities always come with missing pieces. That’s why people don’t see them or act on them because someone will have to supply some missing pieces to make them work. If you have the knack of seeing the missing pieces, then you can be a master at finding and making opportunities work for you.
My challenge to you is to seek out opportunities around you and make some of them happen.
Incedentally, my friend didn’t have any cash with him and I put up the entire investment of one dollar myself. He never paid me back for his share and I remind him of it occasionally even 30 years later.