Opportunities are great. But Almost Opportunities can be crippling. The allure of something that just might be amazing, but that never actually comes to fruition can at times be a massive distraction.
A few weeks back I published an episode on my daily audio show, Trent365!, titled Almost Opportunities. That little 1 minute 42 second sound bite has dominated a lot of conversations I’ve had since then. So, I figured I should expand on it a bit here.
Most successful business people will attribute a large part of their success to focus, certainly in the early stages of their business. The ability to stay laser-focused on their mission allowed them to make the most of the limited time, resource and experience they had available to them. Yet speak to the leader of a mature business and she will probably tell you the company’s ability to evolve and adapt has been critical. Seeing what’s out there. Being open to new opportunities. Not just living inside their own fish bowl.
These two states of mind seem almost contradictory. Nonetheless, I would argue that the intersection of being aware of but not distracted by the events, happenings and opportunities all around you whilst staying focused on the task at hand is where the magic happens. The key is in quickly moving on from any opportunities that really are not. In other words, the Almost Opportunities.
Almost Opportunities are those that don’t lead anywhere and probably were never going to. These are the opportunities that start as a distant twinkle of an idea and then steadily become more and more present in your every-day attention. If they come off, the upside is awesome. They are exciting and glamorous. These are the opportunities that could deliver on your lifelong dreams. Almost Opportunities are often the ones that seem too good to be true – and usually are.
The irony is that the Almost Opportunities are often the ones that end up consuming much more of your time than the Real Opportunities. Why? Exactly because of their allure. They are just so damn tempting that you find yourself almost trying to wish them into existence. And whilst exploring them may not cost you anything directly, the danger is in the opportunity cost. Just imagine how productive you could be in your current business if you weren’t wasting time distracted by these Almost Opportunities.
So how do you identify these Almost Opportunities? Pretty simple really. Just be honest with yourself. You already have a good idea of your abilities and your limitations. Whether it’s that ideal project you always hoped you would get or the dream job you always wanted. You know whether or not you really belong there. Even if your potential client or employer doesn’t – yet.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue these opportunities. You absolutely should. Just be real with yourself in terms of the likelihood of them ever eventuating. And don’t get so caught up in the ‘if only’ that you lose focus on what is real, here and now.