How To Create Opportunity

April 19, 2013

A number of related but scattered thoughts on the subject of creating opportunity for yourself.

Favor Action Over Inaction

Look at goals you have in terms of actions to be taken. It's not enough to write down ideas and talk about them. You have to work to implement them. Recently someone at my church suggested regularly getting together during the summer at a local beach for volleyball. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea. But to make it happen, someone needs to contact the town and see if we need a permit, and if we do, to work at getting that permit. Someone else needs to purchase equipment. There is action to be taken; who's going to take it?

I think it's helpful to see yourself as a hustler, and I mean that in the sporting sense. In baseball, someone who's a hustler will run out every ground ball, dive for every line drive, chase every ball hit anywhere in the outfield. At the end of the game, he comes back to the locker room with a dirty uniform. To a hustler, there are no lost causes.

The way this played out for me is that I spoke to everyone who wanted to work with me, everyone with an idea. I answered emails, met with people, even if I had an inclination that it would be a waste of time. Because you never know. Every potential opportunity is worth a look. This mindset (at the time I was looking for a project to be involved in long-term) is what caused me to answer a random tweet, which led me to Radford Harrell and TalentSoup. On the surface it looked like short-term work, but it turned into 3-1/2 years (and going!) of a great partnership. You never know.

The nature of the hustle will change over time. Now that I am in a situation that I worked hard for many years to find, the types of opportunities I am looking for has changed. I want to meet people who will help me grow my business, and help me improve as a developer, whereas before I was looking for a project to be a part of. But the bias toward action will always exist.

Sometimes It's Better To Stay The Course

All of that said, being biased towards action does not necessarily mean always looking for new things. If you're in a situation where you are really unsure of what to do, consider the possibility of just carrying on. But hopefully "carrying on" for you means continuing with some action, as opposed to doing nothing.

Remember The Sabbath

The Sabbath is a day of rest. Among it's practical benefits (naps for the whole family!), it also serves to remind us that the increase in our lives is not down to our own working. We are led to believe that working long hours and sacrificing time with family and loved ones is what it takes to be "successful". By allowing me to observe a day of rest from work, God is reminding me that ultimately, He is the One who provides for me. Yes I work hard, but every good thing in my life comes from God. The apostle Paul elaborates on this idea in the first letter to the church at Corinth:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:5-8

In that context he's talking about his work in the ministry of the Gospel, but the principle is clear: ultimately God is the one who prospers (or does not prosper) the labor of His people. Much more can be said about this point and how it relates to contentment. It's enough for now to remember that while you are working hard, God is the one who is directing your life, opening and closing doors, and adding (or not adding) increase through your labors.