Over the course of 2016, I have had a ton of opportunities that I never thought possible. I have gone to roundtables, events, speakers, and a handful of other - for lack of a more fitting description - really cool things. I have spoken to prominent business leaders about their efforts during an International Women’s Day breakfast. I showed my support by walking in the front rows of a Pride Parade. I have gone to networking events with big-name charities. Just tonight I will be going to a dinner with some colleagues and our boss that I would never even dream of affording a ticket to.
I promise I am not just bragging.
I can’t attribute it to me being better than other people, but I also can’t say that it is due to sheer luck. What I can say with confidence is that there are so many opportunities that were already there that I was just letting pass by. So, if I have to impart a life lesson to those who take some time out of their day to read my blog, it is this:
Be a Yes Man.
All of those should make you visibly cringe, but hopefully I still have you with me. Put more eloquently, I am trying to say this: Don’t let the moment pass you by.
With all of these great opportunities I have had lately, it has really made me reflect on life, pre-2016. I remember being at school for four years of my life. I was involved with a couple of extra-curriculars, but there were so many evenings when I made the active choice to stay at home and watch Netflix or play computer games.
And it is not that there were no opportunities out there. But I would hear about the club fairs going on and say “eh, maybe I’ll go”. Or I would know someone in a club, or volunteering with an organization, and never ask them about it or how I can get involved. And when your school has a quidditch club, then I can almost guarantee that it has something that will suit your specific - sometimes bizarre - needs.
And it is a little funny, even now, thinking about how my attitude still wants to cling to that comfortable, easy-way-out lifestyle (note: that is a polite way of saying lazy). When I originally got the invite for the dinner tonight, my initial reaction was “that means I won’t be home until 10:00” and “I’ll have already worked for nine hours”. Thank goodness a little voice in my head countered with “Doug, what the hell are you saying?”. This is, quite possibly, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am just thinking about when I will get home.
The same has applied for this blog and my writing. Very few people I have interacted with have initiated conversation with me for a Coffeehouse interview, or to share some trade secrets. I had to put myself out there, take advantage of the brief, slim connection that is shared via commenting on something or following someone on Twitter. And people most likely would not get my opinion about something, my advice or help (for what it’s worth is up to them!) without reaching out to me.
Heck, I wouldn’t even have some of my best friends if one of us hadn’t seized the opportunity. Now that I am thinking about it, it may have taken much longer for me to start dating my partner if I had chosen movies and bed over leaving the house. A story for another day, though.
So don’t let those opportunities pass you by. You don’t need to actively look for them all the time, but set aside a bit to do so, and always keep your ears open. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - the absolute worst they can say is no - and don’t stop people from asking questions themselves. You only have so much time, and once it is gone, it is gone.
But also, make sure to make time for my blogs.