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Opportunity Knocks: Are You Listening

The topic of opportunity was very much on my mind when I happened upon a past issue of Barbara Winter’s inspiring newsletter Winning Ways (my collection goes back to 1996 when I first became a subscriber). In it was an article with a most intriguing title.

Unlike the vast majority of health related articles alerting us to the danger signs of one dreadful condition or another, Barbara took the opposite tack by outlined her 12 Warning Signs of Health

As you read through the list, try ranking your health level on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 – Very Healthy and 1 – I’m in Big Trouble:

12 Warning Signs of Health

1. Persistent presence of a support network.

2. Chronic positive expectations; tendency to frame events in a positive light.

3. Episodic peak experiences.

4. Sense of spiritual involvement.

5. Increased sensitivity.

6. Tendency to adapt to changing conditions.

7. Rapid response and recovery of adrenaline system due to repeated challenges.

8. Increased appetite for physical activity.

9. Tendency to identify and communicate feelings.

10. Repeated episodes of gratitude, generosity or related emotions.

11. Compulsion to contribute to society.

12. Persistent sense of humor.

There’s a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that entrepreneurs are actually healthier than employees. Certainly not all of Barbara’s health signs are exclusive to the self-employed. Anyone can experience for example, a persistent sense of humor or repeated episodes of gratitude, generosity, and the like. But as I look back on my corporate years, I can’t say I ever experienced episodic peak experiences or the persistent presence of a support network.

The 13th Warning Sign of Health

If I were to add a thirteenth warning sign of health it would have to be

13. The adrenalin rush that comes from getting to constantly pick and choose among opportunities.

The reason I’d been thinking about opportunity so much lately, is that I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of people who work for someone else view opportunity very differently than those of us who work for ourselves. Let me tell you what I mean.

I occasionally work as a contract trainer for a company that delivers corporate seminars on time and focus management. In the seminar, I discuss managing priorities in terms of assessing both the urgency and importance. Examples of activities that are both urgent and important include meeting deadlines, managing crises, or responding to opportunities.

Everyone gets meeting deadlines and firefighting. But whenever I ask employees for an example of a work-related opportunity their reaction is always same. With the exception of the folks in sales or marketing, no one can come up with an example. In fact, they look positively baffled. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I think I have it.

When you work for someone else – and there is no additional financial incentive to either create or respond to opportunities – opportunities are seen as things that add more work.

In contrast, my life as an entrepreneur is ALL about picking and choosing amongst multiple opportunities. For example, I recently passed on authoring a book on finding the perfect job. While I was flattered to be asked, writing is not something that comes easily to me. When I do write my book, it’s got to be on a topic that really excites me… like creating creative income streams or how to be an “opportunity analyst.” To invest all that time into a project that didn’t even excite me just didn’t make sense.

Before my new associate, Lisa Tarrant, left her corporate job to work as a profit-sharing freelancer at Changing Course, she didn’t fully appreciate the opportunity factor. Within a matter of weeks though, Lisa got it.

The same day the book offer came in; we got a call about a promising partnership opportunity, found a new marketing channel, were contacted about a speaking engagement at California Institute for Technology, and were offered the chance to submit an article to a major publication. At the end of an exhilarating day I turned to Lisa and said, “Now do you see what I was talking about?” The huge grin on her face told me she did.

I feel sorry for people who don’t get to experience the rush of adrenalin that comes with having so many opportunities from which to choose. But you don’t have to be an entrepreneur (yet) to start thinking like one!

Frances Bacon once said, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” As you seek to escape the j-o-b world and create the life you really want, make it a point to focus on all the benefits there are to changing course. To help you stay inspired, add to the list of what your new life will be like: The adrenalin rush that comes from the opportunity to constantly pick and choose among opportunities. It’s a thrilling way to live!


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About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

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A New Direction

I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...

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