A tutorial to draw gold into your life…
We often hear statements such as: grab the opportunity, seize the opportunity or window of opportunity. These phrases give us the impression as though opportunity is an object out there in the physical world for us to take hold of. But there are no opportunities out there, only situations. It is our minds that trigger an opportune response within us. But this will happen only if our mind is prepared for it. A wise man once said: One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. So, readiness is the key. We need to prepare our minds to spot opportunities. It will not happen of its own accord. So how do we create a mindset that would spot opportunities?
The first opportunity
If we begin from the beginning we will realise that our life itself is an opportunity given to us. We have been brought to life from a state of non-existence. We have no clue where we were a hundred years ago and where we will be a hundred years hence. We don’t even know what unknown force brought us into existence. We must be grateful that we have been given this opportunity to experience life, explore it, understand it and add to its evolution, even if it were only for a limited period. The opportunity to exist is our first golden opportunity.
Once we see that life itself is an opportunity, then whatever happens within life is also a series of opportunities. Life is then lived within the context called opportunity. Everything is then viewed keeping this context in the background. The mind then has a filter through which it can perceive life. It then realises that every moment is an opportune moment. Whether the moment is good or bad does not matter. ‘Behind the challenge or problem lies an opportunity’ is the thought process of such a mindset. The enduring question would be ‘what opportunity is this moment, is this person, is this situation presenting to me’. When this question is kept foremost in the mind it will begin to generate its own answers. You would then have entered the realm of the opportunity mindset.
We need to have a holistic approach while creating an opportunity mindset. It cannot be in business and mega deals alone. It has to encompass all areas of life: relationships, profession, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and behavioral. We have to practice looking for opportunities at all possible moments. We need to start at the most basic level and not brush off opportunities that our mind presents to us as small and inconsequential. If we keep rejecting opportunities we will be sending wrong signals to our brain and it will stop supporting us. Accept whatever comes in the beginning. The quality will improve with practice.
Opportunities don’t come knocking on our door. But that is how it appears on hindsight. If you did not see an opportunity, it never existed for you in the first place. Looking back you will notice it and feel that you missed it. Feeling that we missed an opportunity will cause regret and depress us. Why did I not notice it is a question that may haunt us? It was because we did not create a mindset that would have enabled noticing such opportunities. We just need to work on improving our opportunity seeking radar.
Spotting an opportunity does not require intelligence or high IQ. It only requires an inquiring mind.
Opportunities not to be missed
There are some opportunities in life that we should never miss.
One such is the opportunity to meet great people. Firstly, there are not many such people in the world. Secondly, the opportunity to meet them is also rare. Top class minds and hearts give us a glimpse of what human beings can become. To be in their company is inspirational. Even if it costs to meet them, it is worth it. It is important to see them physically to connect with them. One glimpse of Gandhi was enough for many to turn into freedom fighters. This is one opportunity we must give top priority to, as it cannot be postponed.
The second opportunity that should never be missed is to ask meaningful questions. Carrying a doubt in our heads is a burden. We cannot also find all answers to our questions in books and the Internet. Some have to be learnt from real life experiences of other people. It does not matter who the person is as long as he has life experience on the subject. Life experiences don’t require education and literacy. Real life is a great teacher, as it is practical. How someone handled a situation is more relevant since what he could do, we may also be able to do. Knowing the theory is one thing, putting it into practice is another. When we meet a person who has put theory into practice we must not let go of the opportunity to learn from his experiences. Any opportunity for learning and growth is never to be missed. It does not matter who or where it comes from.
Two wise men of our times have said:
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful.
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.
We can also add: never miss an opportunity to praise.
Since many people find exercising a chore why not create opportunities to exercise in everyday life. Taking the lift is the easy option, but walking the stairs is an opportunity to create better health. We can park our car some distance from the venue and walk an extra mile. At office while sitting at the desk we have the opportunity to perform some simple stretching exercises. We have the opportunity to breathe deeply at any time or close our eyes and perform a short relaxation when we are fatigued. Normally we don’t see such activities as ‘opportunities’, but if we want to train our mind, we have to do so. It will then have a context from where to come from and prompt us into action.
Opportunities we better miss
Life keeps giving us situations where opportunities are available all the time. But there are some opportunities we should rather miss.
Opportunities that we better miss are opportunities to pass on the blame, to complain, to be sarcastic or keep criticizing as a matter of habit. Once we classify these as opportunities to be missed, our awareness will improve and we will become alert when we begin to exhibit such behavioural patterns. Any negative trait can be categorized as an opportunity to be missed. Seizing an opportunity is one side of the story. The other side is letting go of opportunities that need to be given up.
Taking the lift is the easy option, but walking the stairs is an opportunity to create better health.
If we cultivate the habit of opportunity spotting we will notice different kinds of opportunities in everyday situations. Waiting, for most of us, is torturous. But, for a prepared mind it could be seen as an opportunity to cultivate patience or to plan for the future, or to be mindful. Waiting is a time to be creative and see how best we can use the time gifted to us. It is an opportunity for us to take charge of ourselves instead of allowing restlessness to take charge of us.
For a trained mind there are opportunities every moment to grow wiser, to mature, to learn, to know, to become, and also to unlearn, to discard false beliefs and to dispel ignorance. There are also two opportunities that can be practiced anywhere and at any time: gratitude and acceptance.
The freedom struggle gave many an opportunity for sacrifice and placing the country before self. Natural calamities give us opportunities to reach out to the afflicted. Social injustice gives opportunities to participate in mass protests. In such cases large numbers of people come together and opportunities are created for everyone. But in daily life we are alone and have to create our own opportunities. When there is a power cut we have to view it as an opportunity to engage in conversation rather than in complaints. When caught in a traffic jam we have the opportunity of getting frustrated or the opportunity to listen to something useful, or plan for the next day. When we have nothing to do and time is hanging over our heads, it is the time when we have the opportunity to create opportunities.
Any negative trait can be categorized as an opportunity to be missed.
Relationships offer plenty of golden opportunities. It is a space for the creation of many qualities such as commitment, appreciation, trust, integrity, forgiveness and generosity. These qualities can be nurtured only in a safe space where we will not be betrayed and taken advantage of. That fear prevents us from exhibiting many such empowering qualities with people who are outside our inner trustworthy circle. Here again we have two opportunities. One is to enlarge the inner circle, and the other is to take a risk and act as though others were part of our inner circle.
Since relationship is about communication we have the opportunity of communicating in such a way that it enhances the quality of the relationship by awakening the better qualities in each other. We also have an opportunity to create a distance by awakening the nastier sides of each other. Our mind always presents two opposing opportunities to us and asks us to choose.
When we are not in a good mood or feel unhappy during certain times it is a great opportunity to be compassionate and empathetic with oneself. As we are not trained in this, we may find it unusual to treat ourselves as another person needing care. But it is a practice that will open the doors to self-acceptance, the acceptance of an imperfect and vulnerable self. It is also an opportunity to reach out and take the support of others, instead of believing we can handle everything on our own.
Readiness is the key. We need to prepare our minds to spot opportunities.
Spotting an opportunity is only the first, though essential, step. We also must have the power to implement the opportunity. Otherwise it is only a paper opportunity. If we do not have the power or skill or knowledge or resources to take the opportunity forward, then we have to see it as an eye-opener for us to raise our capabilities. The opportunity showed us what we lacked and what growth was required in case a similar opportunity presented itself later. The opportunity gave us the opportunity to upgrade ourselves. So we did not really miss out on the opportunity. It came to show us something about ourselves. However if we did nothing to improve our capabilities then we missed the opportunity.
If we choose an overriding opportunity we can organize our lives around it. For a teacher or master, life is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people. For others it can be service to society. For a scientist it can be discovering the laws of life. For an artist life can be an opportunity for artistic expression.
Spotting an opportunity does not require intelligence or high IQ. It only requires an inquiring mind. ‘What opportunity is available here?’ is the only question we need to ask. That question will allow the mind to open up, to notice and create opportunities. An opportunity is something we gift ourselves by creating a prepared mind.