Opportunity Knocks, but Exactly How Many Times?


Opportunities are rare. You must pounce on them the moment they show up. That’s what it is all about. You know what they say:

“opportunity knocks but once”

Do not be fooled people, because more often than not, these type of quotes are used to get you in line, to get you to conform and to get you to do what others want from you.

Consider this scenario: She’s about to finish college, an Arts major. Her friends talk about working for big ad agencies and buying fast cars. But she has other plans. She schemes of starting her own fashion boutique. She will design clothes – she loves it, been doing it, like, forever. She even designed some for her Aunt’s and they got rave complements, so much so that it was the first time she saw her Aunt blush. Niiccee. She knows that she’s good at it. Everyone knows that; she loves designing clothes. She already has a Facebook page up and ready for her ‘business’, with a home-made logo and appointment times. She is planning to set up her own blog as well.

Then something remarkable happens, in the last semester, she gets offered a job as a junior graphic artist at this big ad agency; her father’s friend’s some uncle connection, you know, the usual. And the job’s good, real good. She knows it, and as soon as she tells her friend, she gets the almost-required peer approval; her friend’s already picking dresses for her to wear for her formal interview.

What do you tell this girl?

Is this job an opportunity knocking? Or is this one of those tricks that the Universe plays on you, just to test your mettle?

Are opportunities overrated?

Now consider:

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming ”

This quote comes from Richard Branson. Now what do you make of this?

First, that Branson probably knows what he is talking about. With about 250 billion businesses under his belt and being the fourth richest bloke in the UK, knighted Sir and what not, he probably has a fair idea about the frequency of opportunities. More so than the timing of buses, I am sure.

And second, that in his world, in his narrative, opportunities are not as stingy.

Let’s quickly rush back to the story of the girl about to graduate college: if you just replace the girl with a boy, the Arts major with a CS degree, the ‘fashion boutique’ idea with a ‘web design firm’ business, and the ad-agency job offer with a bank job offer, then that story becomes my story.

I did not pounce on the opportunity of working for a multinational.

Eight years later, I still make it a point to thank God that I never took that job.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunities nor the time to partner with some great people, start and concurrently own four enterprises from agriculture to hosting, be a published writer, research on any thing that interests me to see if I can wrap a business around it, work from my home, be my own boss and have enough time to start writing again.

I ask you one more time, what would you tell that girl?

That the opportunity is knocking, and it is better to take it? Because in all fairness, it IS a good opportunity after all. And ‘like they say, opportunity knocks but only once’?

Or would you let this opportunity pass? Would you stick to your guns till you have actually tried your plan out? And will you risk the embarrassment if your plan fails?

Tempt. Scare. Sometimes both.

There are two very powerful emotions at work here.

  1. The temptation of ‘opportunity’ and the fear that it will not come again.
  2. The fear of failing at our ‘own thing’ and the temptation of ‘taking the easier route’.

We must kill both. Greed and fear are the biggest motivators of mankind, this doesn’t mean they get to decide on what they should motivate you.

Choose your emotions, don’t let them choose you.

You kill the emotion by not letting it decide for you. You make sure that there is a big enough gap between the stimulus and its corresponding response, for you to – as rationally as possible because there is not such thing as a dead emotion! – decide on the best possible option.

Just switch the emotion, and you will change your perspective, your narrative and your take on life.

For example:

  • Be tempted to try your own thing, instead of being scared of failing.
  • Fear that if you don’t try now, how will you face yourself when you’re 75?
  • Be very afraid of the consequences of your actions, but be tempted by the forgiving nature of your loved ones. (i.e. don’t take your loved ones for granted when it comes to wishing them on their birthday, but do take them for granted when it comes to taking immensely massive decisions about your own personal life!)
  • Also know that there is no such thing as ‘immensely massive decisions about your life’. After some time, everything changes. There is no permanence in life. If you let them, people do forget, and yes, people do forgive (well, if you ask nicely).

Opportunities are in abundance

opportunity knocks

They say the best way to predict the future is to make it yourself.

That’s one way of saying that there is abundance of opportunities, and it is up to you to take charge and convert your dreams into opportunities.

And I am not talking about ‘business opportunities’ only, but also ‘professional’ ones (you do know the difference between your business and your profession, right?).

Others will try to decide for you, but only because you refuse to do so for yourself. Next time someone else’s opportunity knocks on your door, make sure to check it’s not knocking on the back door of your dreams, of your plans.

Choose your opportunities, don’t let them choose you.


Photo credit: EricMagnuson and Eric Rice

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I believe that there is a better way of living our lives, where work is not boring, where I have the time to spend with my family, my friends, my communities. A life that I look forward to living, a life of adventure. You in?

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