Recognizing and Seizing Opportunities
by Eric Wright
Michelangelo, the Renaissance master whose works bring the same awe to viewers today as when they were unveiled over 500 years ago, once said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
As we turn the page on 2012 and move into 2013, some have renewed expectations while others modify their expectations to the point of mediocrity. In some sense they are like the country kid who went to school one day and saw the town decorated with brightly colored posters announcing the circus was coming to town. His school was abuzz, so he ran home after class with the news and asked, “Daddy, can I go?”
The family was poor, but the father sensed how important this was. “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time,” he said, “I’ll see to it that you have the money to go.”
Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy was dressed in his Sunday best. His father reached down into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill, the most money the little boy had possessed at one time. The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town. As he approached, he noticed people lining the streets and he worked his way through the crowd to see the spectacle of a circus parade! It was the grandest thing he’d ever seen. Caged animals snarled as they passed, then came the lumbering elephants; there was a marching band, acrobats performed gymnastics feats and women in sequined costumes rode white horses, while flags and ribbons swirled overhead. Finally, after everything had passed, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes and baggy pants brought up the rear. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home.
What had happened? Was he disappointed? Apparently not, but I’m sure he would be later when he discovered he hadn’t seen the circus, but only the parade! If in 2014 we are able to look back without regret or disappointment, it will be because of attitudes and actions that elevate our expectation and therefore our recognition. To do that we must:
- Be Opportunistic – I once asked Canaveral Port Authority CEO Stan Payne to describe his business planning strategy. “It is completely opportunistic,” he responded. “We plan and prepare, but we look for the opportunities that are presenting themselves and seize them.” He and his organization can respond to opportunities because they…
- Get Ready – A priest once took a new convert to a boxing match because he wanted to get to know him and knew the man was a sports enthusiast. When the bell rang, one fighter paused and crossed himself before moving to the center of the ring. “What does that mean father?” the man inquired. “It doesn’t mean a thing if he doesn’t know how to box,” was the reply. The famous British statesman Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes.”
- Find What You Do Best and Build on It – Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote his brother Orion in 1865, “I have a call to literature of a low order, i.e. humorous. It is nothing to be proud of, but it is my strongest suit.” That recognition and focus made Clemens one of America’s greatest novelists.
- Make a Plan and Stick to It – Zig Ziglar made two statements that support this point. “It is as difficult to get to a goal you haven’t planned as it is to get back from a place you’ve never been.” Then he added, “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goals, you don’t change your decision to get there.”