Monday, March 31, 2014

If It Was Under Your Nose, Would You See It?

Two sides of the same coin department – Have you ever presented an opportunity to someone, whether work, business or social, then have that person walk away from it or not value what was presented to them?  How many times have you been offered something, then in hindsight were able to recognize the missed opportunity?  This thinking led me to wonder about the ways we perceive the things as they are presented.

My thoughts on this began to develop related to an event this past week.  As a member of Toastmasters, we sign up for speeches or roles for every meeting.  The roles range from evaluator to running the meeting that counts towards a leadership certification.  When we want to give a speech, we need to sign up in an open time slot.  At the mid-March meeting, we were told that the speaker slots for the next two events were full.  I was happy to have previously signed up in a slot for the first session in April.  A few days ago, I was curious about who was speaking at this past Friday’s meeting and saw only 2 speakers.  I sent an email out to see if I could fill the third speaker’s slot.  When the answer came back a “yes,” I was excited!  At the meeting, it was pointed out that I took the initiative to check the website and created the opportunity to speak.  While I was uncomfortable being signaled out, the point was that I went to the website, saw the opening, and did not wait for someone to come to me.

Too often, we hear from people that missed an opening say, “If I had known…” or “How did they get that…” or “They must have had no one else…”  Thomas A. Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  In a world of instant gratification and a sense of entitlement, how often do we look for a quick success, or instant riches?  While we can read stories that tell wonderful tales of unexpected, instant gains, the reality is that most successful people (in any type of endeavor), have had to work hard to get what they strive for.  Sometimes, the years of effort come together in a single moment, validating the quote by Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  In other words, the people that have “stepped in it” have spent a good time preparing for that moment.

In my case, I would like to become a professional speaker.  Like any other skill that we hone, we have to be willing and able to practice so that we can improve.  If I really want to develop better speaking skills, I certainly have to be willing and able to speak at any time the chance presents itself.  In last week’s case, I had a speech in the ready mode and was looking for the opportunity to present it.  It was, I guess, luck that made me intentionally go to the website and double check if there were enough speakers :)