An enterprising Japanese company developed a "Date Detector." The user programs this small electronic device with some basic information, including their age, gender, and interests, as well as that of the person they wish to meet. After leaving their home, they turn on the Date Detector and head for an area where people like to gather. As two people wearing Date Detectors come into proximity of one another, their detectors will start beeping if they have been similarly programmed. After finding each other, they laugh, start a conversation, and go on a date.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had Opportunity Detectors? Imagine it alerting us every time an opportunity was nearby! It could change our lives. After all, opportunities are everywhere; they surround us. Those who fail to see them are like people in a forest who cannot find firewood. They are also like people sitting on a park bench. They watch birds descend and surround them, waiting to be fed, but they do nothing, so the birds fly away. So it is with opportunity; it departs when we fail to act.
Returning to Opportunity Detectors, guess what? We do have them! They are called DISCOMFORT and FEAR. You see, if I wish to increase my happiness, enrich my life, and become a better person, I will have to do things that I am not doing now. Don’t you agree? And what is it that I do now? Isn’t it whatever I am comfortable doing? Don’t we avoid making an effort, experiencing discomfort, and facing fear? That is the mistake we make. Opportunity is always present. It is always close by, yet just out of reach. It lies outside of our comfort zone. So, every time we feel a twinge of discomfort or fear, it is our Opportunity Detector alerting us of opportunities to grow. You see, opportunity is not a door; it is a dare.
Where do opportunities come from? Don’t they come from other people? Doesn’t that mean that if you wish to experience more opportunities you need to experience more people? If you can step out of your comfort zone and start mingling with people you’re uncomfortable with, you’ll be exposed to a whole new world of opportunity.
What people are you avoiding? Are they overweight or underweight? Attractive or plain? Intellectual or uneducated? Bald or hairy? Male or female? Loud or soft-spoken? Cocky or meek? Tall or short? Take off your blinders; expand your vision; open your mind and talk to them. You are uncomfortable in their presence for a good reason. It is your Opportunity Detector alerting you of a chance to make new discoveries and experience growth.
What are snobs, know-it-alls, wise-guys, jerks, losers, and dopes? They are words used by others to describe YOU when you don’t behave as they want you to. You may be guilty of doing the same thing. If so, stop the name-calling and recognize that you’re merely uncomfortable when things don’t go your way. At times, don’t things have to go THEIR way? Don’t they have a right to exist? If we can look at them in a new light and make ourselves willing to listen to their ideas, we will discover they no longer rub us the wrong way. In fact, they will rub us the right way, by polishing us and causing us to sparkle and shine.
Are you avoiding members of particular races, ethnic groups, religions, or political persuasions? If so, rejoice, for once again new opportunities await you. Benefiting by the many opportunities that surround us takes more than an awareness of their presence. It also takes humility. How can I learn if I think I already know everything? When in the presence of others, one of the best things we can do is ask questions. Questions allow others to share information and allow us to absorb it by listening.
We also find opportunities by looking for them. If we would look for them as diligently as birds look for worms, we would easily uncover them. For example, the behaviour of our children may cause us to grit our teeth. But, after reflection, we may realize they give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wish we had.
It is also helpful to examine our way of thinking. For instance, some complain there is no future in their job. Of course not, there is no future in any job. For the future doesn’t lie in our job, but in us. So, if we’re unhappy with where we are, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing wrong. If we do so, we’ll come up with answers. We’ll think of things to avoid and actions to take. Opportunities will present themselves to us. So, it’s not the world that needs changing, but we.
It’s not only our way of thinking, but the words we use that we should be aware of. For example, every time we say, "I don’t want to" or "I’m scared to" or "I don’t know how to," we are expressing discomfort or fear. In other words, those expressions are pointing to opportunities waiting to be tapped.
Johnny Carson said, "Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are your ready?’" How about you? Are you ready to associate with those you have been avoiding? Are you ready to stop talking and start listening? Are you ready to do what you have been putting off? Are you ready to make the call, instead of waiting for your phone to ring? Are you ready to seize every opportunity, no matter how small, or how difficult? Are you willing to admit that winners are people who do the things losers are uncomfortable doing? Are you ready to discover that you CAN do what you are afraid of? Are you ready to choose between realizing your dreams and realizing your fears? Are you ready to heed your Opportunity Detector?
Marianne Williamson has this perspective to add: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Finally, here is a worthwhile "Knock-Knock" story told by Norman Dale:
"Don’t be silly — opportunity doesn’t knock twice!"
© Chuck Gallozzi
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