I recently had an interaction with a waitress named Stephanie. Thoughts of how hard she worked for her customers stuck in my mind. Her work standard was excellence. Although the restaurant was short staffed, Stephanie was seizing opportunities to shine for her customers rather than complain about the circumstance.
Her hard work paid off with happy diners and nice tips for herself. I couldn’t help but think about today’s culture and how many people seem to want everything given to them. Someone else to make it easy for them and of course plenty of excuses and blame for everyone else not doing what they want.
What Is Opportunity
First let’s define opportunity. As a noun it is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something such as a chance for employment or promotion. Opportunity can be viewed in two ways: (1) as something to be given and (2) as something to be taken.
I often hear people say ” I just need someone to give me an opportunity”. But, is that really true? To quote Orison Swett Marden “Opportunities? They are all around us … There is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it.”
Opportunities were meant to be taken advantage of, or to accept or pursue with conviction. This means that it is not up to someone else to give you an opportunity as much as it is your responsibility to take action.
Why It’s Important to Seize Opportunities
One characteristic of opportunities is that they come and go. Opportunity comes with a window that will not stay open forever. Seizing opportunities requires watchfulness.
Taking advantage of opportunities is always going to move you outside of your comfort zone and create a path for growth. You will learn and develop new skills that will reward you in the future.
If you only want life to be easy and comfortable, then you will likely miss out.
How To Seize Opportunities
Seizing opportunities is not a stereotypical strength for women. Often when doors of opportunity are opened, women don’t go through them. This is due to the fact that there is still a confidence gap for women pursing new goals, especially in leadership.
Gloria Feldt said it perfectly “women’s biggest challenge in the 20th century was to change laws and open doors. Our challenge in the 21st century is to walk through those doors with big intentions. And we must each bring other women along on that journey. If women embrace the power we already possess, we can take full advantage of this rare moment of strategic inflection. We can turn a potential tipping point into the long-overdue reality.”
Generally speaking women aren’t raised to be risk takers. More often, women are told to play it safe; don’t take risks and you won’t fail. Women should be sweet and not bossy or pushy.
Boys, however, are taught the complete opposite. Take risks and play hard. That’s being a winner!
Unfortunately, the business world still has a bias toward men even when skills and experience are identical with women. This won’t change until women begin seizing opportunities. We can’t continue to limit ourselves and we must model for our daughters that you don’t have to wait for things to happen; pursue what you want.
- You must be open to opportunity. If you are too “busy” you won’t see them.
- Keep trying things. Every opportunity is not a guaranteed success. But, there is always something to be learned from every effort.
- Take risks.
- Reach for opportunities – they are usually NOT handed to you. You have to take action to take advantage of them.
- Mistakes will happen and it’s okay. Perfection isn’t the goal. Learn from mistakes and move on.
- Don’t let cultural/social manners sidetrack your authority. It’s great to be polite but don’t let being a “lady” cause you to miss an opportunity.
- Ask for what you want. Not asking is a for sure NO.
I have had many opportunities come across my path. Some I’ve missed and others have taken me to places I never thought I could achieve. My daughters have been taught a strong work ethic and how to be change makers in their own lives.
Hopefully the “over 50” women will mentor and encourage those coming behind us to be women who won’t shy away from seizing opportunities.