I love music, and if you looked at my iPod, you would see that I'm all over the place in terms of what I listen to. This morning as I was in the middle of my workout, a song came on that I've heard hundreds of times, but for some reason, today the words really struck me.
Funny how life can be like that. We can hear the same song, the same advice, or the same message over and over until one day, for some reason, it finally lands with us. Like these words did with me:
"Look, if you had one shot... one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted... in one moment - would you capture it, or just let it slip?"
Most of us would like to think that we'd go for it. But if we're really truthful with ourselves, there are probably many more times that we let it slip... Why is that? What are we waiting for?
For years now, I've been fascinated with how people who are so talented, educated, and have so much to offer, will shrink from their greatness, and literally fight for their limitations. Here are five ways that you can learn to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves.
1. Stop waiting for conditions to be perfect.
Sometimes we get stuck in the pattern of thinking everything needs to be perfect before we can take action. But something happens when we take action. First of all, action always trumps fear. Things also begin to become clearer. And, while we may experience difficulties or even failures at first, we learn, adjust, and take action again. Remember, you'll never get out of your driveway if you think all the lights must be green on the way to your destination.
"If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters
2. Stop thinking you need to know more.
When I had decided to leave the comfort of my corporate job and start my coaching business, I experienced this block. And I remember in one of my very first coaching classes, when the instructors looked at our class and asked if we were coaching any clients yet. No one raised their hand. When asked why, the most common answer was, "I'm still in training. I don't know enough yet." To which our brilliant instructor said, "No one ever thinks they're ready. The only way to know for sure is to start." I started seeing clients that next week, and have never looked back. Sometimes the best way to learn is to simply start.
3. Stop asking for permission.
I know - this one sounds really risky! Let's be clear; I'm not talking about overstepping your boundaries. But how many times do we find ourselves in a situation where we know that there is an action we can take in the moment that will move our project forward or make a difference in our organization, but we stop because we're afraid of stepping on someone's toes? What's more important, making a decision that can make a real difference, or being politically correct? There is wisdom in the axiom that tells us "Sometimes it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission." When your motives are pure, and you know the right thing to do, then do it. More often than not, you'll find it was the right move. And if you make a mistake, learn from it and keep moving forward.
"No man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes." - William E. Gladstone
4. Don't be afraid to take a risk.
We cannot succeed in anything meaningful when we are looking for an absence of risk. Taking action toward our opportunities is inherently risky. Yes, failure is an option. So is success. Which would you rather focus your energy and intention? Besides, failure is an important part of the learning process. If you're not making mistakes and not failing, then chances are you're not really doing anything. New experiences will always feel a little scary. They're supposed to. That's the way it works. But every time you face a risk or a fear and do it anyway, you build confidence, and make it easier for you to step into other new opportunities when they appear.
5. Stop waiting for a clear set of instructions.
So many times in my own life, I've waited for someone to tell me, "Do this. Then do that. Make sure you remember to..." First of all, any time that happened, I would realize later that I really hadn't learned a whole lot. And certainly I wasn't learning from experience. Since starting my business, I've had many opportunities where I was uncertain of the steps I should take. But if I were always waiting for instructions, I'd never get anything done. Today, I have developed a bias for action, and that has allowed me to not only respond to opportunities when they arise, but to also make more of them for myself.
"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." - Abraham Lincoln
The bottom line is this... you're ready NOW. Follow these steps, take action, and you'll be amazed how many more opportunities seem to present themselves.
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Kevin Ciccotti, Human Factor Formula
Helping companies create sustainable, effective teams that are committed to the success of their projects, the organization, and the individuals with whom they work