Lets talk opportunities.
Have you ever looked at someone and wondered how all the good opportunities seem to land in their lap. It’s not fair right? You’re just as good. Just as competent. Maybe even better! Yet somehow the opportunities never seem to flow your way.
Now let me challenge you … is it that the opportunities are being delivered to someone else or is it that you are not seeing and grabbing them? The funny thing about opportunities is that they are rarely served up on a silver platter complete with a full list of pro’s and cons. You need to see them, recognize them and grab them. Even if you are not quite sure of what is being thrown at you – please – just say YES because you never know where it might lead.
All good in theory … but let me take it a step further and tell you my story about the time I jumped at a blind opportunity that not only took me to New York and back but propelled my career…
When I was 23 years old I was interning for a startup in Malta (a tiny island in Europe). This was back in the days before startups were even cool! But nevertheless, that’s where I was.
One day this opportunity presented itself.
The senior leadership team were going to New York for a meeting with our investors and despite everyone’s good planning, the presentations were not ready and it was less than 24 hours until they were due to fly. The CEO decided that someone needed to go with to help get everything finished.
The chairman’s PA was the obvious choice, however, it turned out his passport had expired – so he was out.
The 2nd in line under the PA had her passport in order, however, her PowerPoint skills were not up to scratch – so she was out.
It was like watching a crazy comedy of errors unfold.
However, sensing that a trip to New York might be mine for the taking, I put my hand up and offered to go.
Without really think anything through I simply said, I have a passport and I’m kick ass in PowerPoint … and the little voicein my head was thinking that this would be the opportunity to go to New York for my first ever business trip – yes please!
Now – lets talk about how that trip really transpired.
>> It takes about 15 hours to get from Malta to New York (you have to fly via frankfurt) and I worked pretty much the whole time (this was back in the day where you could switch out computer batteries really easily and the IT guys had loaded me up to be able to work the whole way!)
>> We literally cycled through the different managers in seat next to me who took turns working on their part of the presentation.
>> When we go there I had a nap for a few hours before myself and one of our managers continued working on the presentation and getting things ready for the actual meeting
>> That translated to another all-nighter including 2 hours of printing presentations at 3am at the local Kinkos (New York is really the city that doesn’t sleep)
>> Finally, we were done by 5am – and in the city that never sleeps – we figured the only responsible thing to do was go breakfast at one of their terrible diners.
>> By about 7am my manager went back to his hotel for a shower and to get ready for the presentation – and I finally needed to crash.
>> I woke up later that day, managed to walk around New York for a couple of hours before getting a cab back to JFK.
>> My New York adventure was over.
Now – what’s the point of my story?
First of all, lets be realistic – if someone came up to me and said would you like to come on a work trip for 72 hours where you will get very little sleep and the most glorious part of it all will be hanging out at Kinkos at 3am … I probably would have sent them … well to a fairly unpleasant place.
But sometimes – we need to stop over thinking things and just say YES and see where it leads.
We also need to realise we don’t control everything and sometimes seizing an opportunity can start the next great chain of events. In my case, the reality was flying to New York and back was not the true opportunity.
What came out of that trip was where the real benefit lay. An entire leadership team had now taken notice of me – they knew my name and they knew what I could do.
That in turn lead to more opportunities within the business and one of the people on that trip, who ultimately became a great friend, also directly connected me to a job in London down the line.
The moral of my story? Stop overthinking things – if you see an opportunity, just put your hand up and say YES!