Jumping at the Sun

    October 18, 2002

How many times have you learned a new word, only to immediately see and hear it everywhere you look?

Opportunity is just like that. It sits, quietly lurking, just below the edge of your consciousness, and just occasionally, pops its head up for a look around.

When it does, if you are quick, you can grab it fast and get a tight grip.

As the Bulgarian proverb goes, ‘Seize opportunity by the beard, for it is bald behind.’

Whenever you read about people who have been wildly successful in life, you come to realize that there is a pattern of failure. Truly successful people are opportunists, grabbing every good idea that passes their way. Some work out, but the majority fail. But, like the door-to-door salesman who looks forward to each negative response because it brings him closer to the next sale, they are playing the numbers.

One multi-millionaire businessman I know of says that he estimates only two out of every seven businesses he starts work out. But those two make enough money to cover all the losses of the other five, and provide him with an ever-growing personal fortune.

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” Zora Neale Hurston.

Opportunity is a habit. As you educate your brain to see opportunity, the blindfold is removed from your eyes – and more likely your heart – and you see more and more. Sun Tsu said, in The Art of War, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” And that is just as true today as it was 2500 years ago.

The biggest difficulty we face, once we learn to see, is to judge which opportunities are right for us and which are not. “Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage.” said Benjamin Disraeli. How can you tell if that golden opportunity is the one you should follow, or one you should leave for someone else?

First of all, you must define two things:

Your ‘Life’s Purpose’ and

Your ‘Core Values.’

It sounds obvious, but many dismal failures stem from people running headlong at something that contradicts one of those two fundamentals.

Then, run each new idea, each brilliant opportunity, against a short list of reality checks. If you can score ten out of ten, you can be sure that you have, in Churchill’s words, stumbled across a great opportunity. Whether you pick yourself up and carry on your way, or whether you heed Ellen Metcalfe’s words is up to you :

“You have to recognize when the right place and the right time fuse and take advantage of that opportunity. There are plenty of opportunities out there. You can’t sit back and wait.”

1. Does it in any way contradict my core values?

This is the most important question. If it in any way jars with what you believe in, walk away.

2. Are the people involved ‘my kind of people’?

As the saying goes, ‘People do business with people they like.’ There has to be compatibility in any relationship – none more so than in business. If you have even a slight doubt about anyone involved, you are better off turning it down.

3. Does it complement my purpose in live?

However good an opportunity may seem, if it runs contrary to your current aims and intentions, your heart will never be 100% in it. And less than 100% commitment is asking for trouble.

4. Will it be fun?

Yes, business should be fun. Any business takes a lot of time and effort. If you don’t think you will enjoy every minute of it, don’t bother. there will always be another opportunity that you will enjoy more.

5. What is the time implication?

All of our lives are filled. Whether it is current work commitments, or family ties, or leisure interests. When you start a new business, something has to be sacrificed. How much time do you think the new business will require from you (realistically), and what will you have to give up to allocate that much time to it? Are you prepared to make that sacrifice?

6. What is the money implication?

“Nothing comes from nothing,” as Shakespeare had King Lear say. What is the real cost of this new opportunity? The converse of expenditure is profit. What is the upside? What kind of return on investment can you expect in the short, medium and long term. Write a business plan, overestimating costs and underestimating income.

7. What will my friends and family think about me?

It is important to be able to stand tall. Never start a business that you would be ashamed of. You might not mind running an ‘adult’ website. It might fit perfectly well with your core values. But what about your children? What will they tell their friends that you do?

8. How will I feel in a year if I walk away?

Regret is a terrible thing. If all else is right and the only reason you turned it down was fear, will you rue the day for the rest of your life?

“Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death.” James F. Byrnes.

9. Is it wrong for now, but right for tomorrow?

Some opportunities are out of step with the events of out lives. The impossible dream of today, may well be the ideal opportunity of tomorrow. Ask yourself if this can be put on the back-burner – but don’t make the mistake of leaving it there! Make a mental or diary note to revisit it on a regular basis. If the idea is right, there will come a day when the time is right as well.

10. If I could do nothing else in my life, would this be it?

The $64,000 question. Treat each new idea as if it has to be the entire focus of the rest of your life. Still interested? Then you may just have found your dream.

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

Martin Avis is the author of the best-selling ‘Unlock the Secrets of Private Label eBooks’ – a complete blueprint to private label rights success. Visit http://www.plrsecrets.com to see how you can tap into this goldmine for yourself.