Wherever we look upon this earth, the opportunities take shape within the problems. Nelson A. Rockefeller
Every day we are presented with opportunity. But opportunity doesn’t always present itself as a great moment, all wrapped up with a bow. Sometimes these opportunities are disguised as challenges or even problems. Sometimes they look like hard work, or even feel scary. Occasionally, when times get tough, it’s tempting to choose the easy option.
How do we summon the courage to lead ourselves, with clear direction, into unchartered waters, where both great achievements and substantial failures may await?
For most of us, it’s not too difficult to embrace the welcome or planned opportunities as they arise. But what about those life changes that are thrust upon us, rather than designed or chosen? How do we find the opportunities in the turmoil? It takes real courage to find opportunities within an unwelcome, chaotic situation.
For you, it could be a job redundancy. For your child it could be being put in a class without any existing friends. If these types of situations are thrust on us against our will, it’s normal for it to feel completely wrong, especially at first. If the changes are not what you think you want, your first response might be resistance. You might not even think to look for opportunities. Training yourself, or your child, to find the opportunities in the challenge is a life skill that will provide enormous life-long benefit.
Understanding what happens in our brain when faced with an unexpected challenge will help us manage our response. When encouraged or forced by others to move in a direction we are naturally resisting, it can feel very uncomfortable. The current reality, the situation you have been used to, is deconstructing before your very eyes. At this point, it can be difficult to see that any new beginning might be better than the reality you have known. But it’s important to understand that the sooner we embrace the deconstruction, and take charge of it, the sooner we can begin to create a new reality that works for us.
Rather than leaving it up to others, we need to have the courage to construct the new environment that we want.
To do this, there are a number of facts that we need to understand.
Firstly, we need to recognise that our fear of the unknown is normal. Resistance is usually borne from fear; of the unknown, of failure, of change. Once we understand and accept that fear is part of the process, this can help us overcome the discomfort that comes with an unknown future. Overcoming hesitation borne of fear requires significant mental strength. Understanding why we are afraid and exactly what we are afraid of, will help us begin to imagine the potential future we desire.
Secondly, we need to actively shape our unknown future into something that we desire. It’s a clean slate… a new start. And the more we work towards our desired future, the less we have to fear. We can start to look for the opportunities to create the future we want, that will work for our needs at that time.
It helps to understand that sometimes plans won’t come to fruition. Sometimes we will succeed in the opportunities we seek. Sometimes we won’t. And that’s ok. There will always be something to be gained, learned or understood from your best attempt. You just have to be open to seeing it.
Unfortunately, the majority of the opportunities open to us pass us by, often unrecognised. We literally don’t notice them staring us in the face. The earlier we learn these skills, the less likely we are to miss opportunities as adults. Embracing the right opportunity at the right time can be life changing. And the right time is not necessarily referring to those times in your life when things are going smoothly. Sometimes the right time is simply that moment when you are able to see the opportunity right before you.
Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you never take”. The choices we make literally shape our lives. So, next time you are faced with a situation which, at first glance, appears to be out of your control, how will you choose to respond and how will you teach your child to respond? Your decision can literally affect the rest of your life.