How to Gain Clarity & Recognize Opportunities Everywhere
In the last year, opportunity has shown up in a bunch of different spaces in my life. From relationships, friendships, travel, technology, and especially business ventures, it feels like opportunities are everywhere and I’d have to actively work to avoid them. It’s a good feeling. But it’s not like I didn’t do some adjusting to get here. This is a combination of focus and preparation.
Speaking with a friend of mine, I heard the tell tale sign of someone blind to opportunities:
“I wish I was as lucky as you are. You’re surrounded by opportunities, and I don’t have anything coming my way.”
This opened the door to what it really means to recognize opportunities everywhere. It feels like a lot of people only recognize the best of the best when they land on their laps unannounced. Everything beyond that is either discounted for not being a good option –not worth pursuing– or it’s just plain missed.
There are three factors that influence the opportunities around you:
- Your perspective (the lens through which you view the world)
- Your clarity of focus (are you clear on exactly what you want)
- Your environment (you might have to leave that one horse town to find more horses)
In this episode, I’m going to give you a few reasons why you might be the only thing holding yourself back (as cliché as that sounds), what steps you can take to gain clarity and recognize opportunities around you, and why your perspective on luck has everything to do with both. This is more than just opening up your eyes – it’s about the damn story in your head. Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below. [Subscribe Here]
One of my favorite discussions / arguments surrounds the way we view luck. If you step up to the roulette table in Vegas, place all your chips on one number, and win it all when that little ball lands on your number, that’s blind luck. If you’re working in a job that doesn’t fulfill you and you hear a client or colleague mention a need they have –one you can gladly fulfill– and you say yes to it, that’s not luck. That’s preparation and execution.
Look, this might be a tough episode for some listeners because I’m not going to sugar coat anything. I’m going to follow the Gary V method of delivering content and opinion –albeit with less cursing– to you by punching you in the mouth with it.
Some people play victims in life, complaining that nothing good ever happens to them, they’re stuck in their lackluster life circumstances forever, and even if something good does come along, they’ll most certainly get it taken away.
Well, yes. If that’s how you view the world then you’re certainly going to have a bad time. That’s why we’re starting the change internally. If you want to gain clarity and recognize opportunities everywhere, it’s time to start with your focus.
Clean your damn lens.
Have you ever been in a car with a filthy windshield? I mean, filthy but usable. Dead bugs smeared, dried water spots and dirt, maybe even a hazy film on the inside – the glass is still translucent and you can see the road and large obstacles, but it’s certainly not clear.
In this instance, your job as the driver is to clear it of debris so you can see well enough to get from point A to point B, avoiding obstacles, reading large signs, and not driving off the side of the road, but not much else. Sure, you can get where you’re going, but you miss details along the way. If you had to change course or notice something smaller, it would be difficult to do with a windshield like this, right?
Moreover, you can’t safely be agile and quick with your view being obstructed with dirt and grime. It’s pretty easy to miss a turn when you can’t see what you’re looking for clearly. Increasing your speed only makes this more difficult, right?
This is the same with your mind. Opportunities are side streets on your daily drive. You may not notice them until it’s too late if your windshield is filthy, right?
Some people spend their entire lives on the same roads, complaining there’s no other roads to drive because they simply can’t see them. But there’s something worse than missing the roads: skipping them. Some complain they can see the roads but believe the view will be the same, so there’s no reason to take them.
Applying that last perspective to opportunities, some people complain they don’t have any, but when presented with them, choose to ignore or avoid them because they believe it won’t be any different or better. They have no idea what’s down that path. Their own filthy view has told them that every turn will produce the same filthy view.
If you feel like you don’t have any opportunities because the world is hard, or your boss is hard, or your drive is hard, or your –– if you feel like you don’t have control because everything sucks… your lens is filthy. Clean your lens so you can see what’s around you. You don’t have to take every single side street, but you can’t complain there aren’t any if you also refuse to make an effort to see them.
This could also be considered your attitude. If you clean up your lens and have a positive, curious attitude about the world and the possibilities around you, that will make a big difference. But there’s a second element to this quest that gets a little more focused. What if you can see things, but nothing’s clear?
Change your focus.
If you’ve ever used an SLR camera or a camera with a manual focus, you know how finicky they can be with getting the image to look clear. You have to know what you’re focusing on in the frame. Is it something in the foreground? The background view? Are you trying to create a bigger depth of field? Have you set the aperture and f-stop properly to create the look and feel you want?
It can be exhausting. But if you practice, you can get remarkably good at it.
Guess what? Your mind is the same.
My friend Chuck has always been an opportunity seeker. He was always looking for the next best thing. He was keenly tuned in to the pulse of the city and heard when new opportunities were available. He said yes almost habitually, and it gave him some incredible stories and a pretty stacked bank account.
But it also stressed him out greatly. His lens was clear and his attitude was positive and curious. Opportunities were everywhere and he wasn’t clear on which was the best fit for him, so he said yes to the next most interesting. This carries with it a pretty even balance of good and bad attributes:
- You’re an opportunity adventurer! Always meeting new people and trying new things!
- You may end up making more money doing more advanced things using skills you previously learned
- You may not find what you’re honestly looking for to fulfill you (what is my purpose?)
- You risk burning bridges when you move from one to another
- You may chase opportunities without clarity as to what you’re actually seeking
That last one – that was the winner for Chuck. He loves adventure and the thrill of meeting new people and trying new things, but he wasn’t clear on what he was actually seeking. Fast forward a few years and some self work, and Chuck is hyper focused on the things that fulfill him and let him provide the most value to the world around him. Now he’s faced with opportunities that only provide him with exactly what he wants. He only says yes to what fulfills him, and it’s allowed him to meet the girl of his dreams, work the job of his dreams, and build a life he’s only dreamt of.
The takeaway here is to get focused on what you’re actually looking for in an opportunity. The biggest waste comes in two ways: to say yes to one that doesn’t do anything for you, or say no to one because you aren’t sure what you want.
Make a list of the jobs and projects you’ve worked on in the past (and currently). For each, list out the best things and worst things about each. Once you have a large list of attributes and qualities in each good and bad column, you’ll have a great idea of what you want and don’t want going forward. This helps you recognize opportunities better when they show up.
After I did that exercise myself, I realized that I wanted opportunities that allowed me to make great money, work on a creative team, have autonomy, and set my own schedule. Using just those four elements, I have landed some amazing game-changing opportunities to work for the right people at the right times in my life. Using a similar style of list, you can do this for relationships as well. You’ll have a compass for what you like (and want) and dislike (don’t want) in relationships so you’ll be able to more effectively navigate the dating pool.
Don’t let focus fall short.
My parting words on the subject of focus are these: Don’t allow your focus to be so rigid that you say no to everything in favor of holding out for perfection. Some are so focused on the perfect opportunity with the perfect salary in the perfect location that they refuse to acknowledge anything outside that scope. This is almost as bad as having a dirty lens. You can’t see anything around you because you’re looking through a pinhole.
Get clear on what you want in your life, love, and professional opportunities going forward, and keep your mind open to what shows up. A conversation or introduction through an “almost perfect” opportunity might lead you to the one that changes everything. Stay clear, but stay open.
What if there’s literally no opportunity around you? What if you’re actually doing all you can but there’s just nothing around you?
Leave your one horse town.
I hate to say it –no, I actually love to say this– you need to pack up and leave. Too many people are stuck living in a physical location, bound by a family story that’s robbing them of their ability to become the human they were born to be. If you’re stuck in a small factory town in the middle of Ohio and you want something more, you may be looking for opportunities in all the right ways, but the family story could be holding you back.
Your family story may be that you’re destined to live a “good enough life” in the same town with all the same people just like your father did and his father did and his –– you get the point. Families can often have the best intentions, but their intention can also be the chain that keeps you tethered to a town and a life you don’t love.
If opportunities are what you’re seeking, and you’re clear about what you do and do not want, you’ve got the right perspective and attitude, and there’s still nothing available for you… it’s time to make your own opportunity.
Move. Your next opportunity is waiting in your next destination. Maybe that’s the next big city. Maybe that’s three towns over. Maybe that’s three states over. Maybe that’s overseas. Start looking for the right opportunities for you, regardless of location and see what shows up. Or change it up and find a location you love and then check out what kind of opportunities match your desire there.
The bottom line in all of this is that you have complete control of the opportunities around you. You can gain clarity and recognize opportunities everywhere once you realize that it’s completely up to you to do so. If you wait around for the perfect set of circumstances to fall in your lap, you’re going to be waiting forever.
What kind of opportunity is that?
Not a very good one. Don’t let that be you. Get clear. Take chances. Take no prisoners.
Go Boldly, Everywhere.
What opportunities have YOU been able to recognize and jump on?
Did you have to change your location, resources, or lifestyle to say yes to one?
Would you be willing to make some big changes and take some big risks for one?
Leave a comment below so we can connect!