What If You Got to Pick and Choose Among Opportunities?

October 26, 2012 | ChangingCourse.com

One of the benefits of being your own boss is the adrenalin rush that comes from getting to constantly pick and choose among opportunities. I didn’t get that when I had a job-job.

That’s because when you work for someone else you tend to have a very different take on the very meaning of the word “opportunity” than those of us who work for ourselves. Let me tell you what I mean.

It took a number of years for my business here at Changing Course to be profitable. So during that time I supported myself as contract trainer for a company that delivers corporate seminars on time and focus management.

As part of the course I’d explain 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’d ask my students for an example of a work-related opportunity their reaction is always the same.

With the exception of the folks in sales or marketing, no one – and I mean not a single person – could come up with an example. In fact, they look positively baffled. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. But now that I’ve been my own boss for going on 18 years now, I understand why.

The thing is, 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.

Managers (of which I was one) used to try to pass them off as “growth opportunities.” But with a few exceptions everyone knew it was just more work on top of an already full plate.

In contrast, my life as an entrepreneur is ALL about picking and choosing amongst multiple opportunities. For example, I once passed on authoring a book with a major publishing house on finding the perfect job. While I was flattered to be asked, writing is not something that comes easily to me.

I know how much work it takes to write a book. So I decided that that when I did write my one, it would have to be on a topic that really excites me… like creating creative income streams or how to be an “opportunity analyst” or the book I ultimately did write on how to feel as bright and capable as everyone “thinks” you are.

To invest all that time into a project that didn’t even excite me just didn’t make sense.

Before my Virtual Assistant (VA), Lisa Tarrant, left her corporate job to work with me at Changing Course, she didn’t fully appreciate the opportunity factor. Within a matter of weeks though, she 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 in California, 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 not only a thrilling way to live – from where I sit – it’s the ONLY way to live!

If you’ve already taken steps to start your own business there’s one more step I urge you to take. I know for many it feels like a big investment to outsource, especially when you’re “bootstrapping” your business.

But when you hire someone who can handle all the stuff that drains you – even if it’s just for a few hours a week – it frees you up to take advantage of all those cool opportunities that are the best and highest use of your gifts.

I feel so passionate about this that I’ll be hosting an upcoming Teleclass all about Virtual Team Building. You’ll find all the details in the Featured Resource section below. I think you’ll be surprised to discover just how affordable hiring virtual assistants can be!