Preparation – The Law of True Opportunities

Opportunities are Gifts

The Opportunity Clock
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True opportunities are the results of alignment with our internal gifts and the happenings in the world.  They are neither accidental nor coincidental.  Just like talents alone, true opportunities are gifts.  Our abilities to benefit from them is the cause-and-effect reward for doing the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons.  In other words, I believed, I planned, I prepared, I searched, I found and I took action.

Some opportunities sit patiently on a shelf waiting to be discovered and claimed by opportunity shoppers who are willing to pay the price.  There are no special requirements for acquiring the gift except that the purchaser is willing to pay the price.  From then on, the investment creates an incentive to do something meaningful with the opportunity.

There are also legacy opportunities tucked away in a safe place, for the right time, like a dowry or inheritance.  Others are the gifts of our potential.  Still others are gifts of love and attention.

Talent is both a gift and an opportunity.  It’s like a seed waiting to be planted and watered so it can grow to maturity, harvested and put to its intended use.  Talent comes with a purpose.  The purpose of an apple seed is to grow into an apple tree that produces apples.  Talents are the seeds of our lives.

There’s something even more important than just recognizing our gifts and opportunities — full understanding and use of them.  To do this, some key connections must be made.  Let’s call it the Opportunity Progression…

  • Talents – the innate gifts of “potential.” We’re all born with unique sets of abilities.
  • Potential – the God-given gift that enables everything we do AND gives hints about our possibilities.
  • Possibility – the gift of “hope.”  Hope is the attitude of expectations for a better future.
  • Hope – the gift that is built on trust, strengthens faith and inspires courage.
  • Courage – the gift that inspires and fuels action – both proactive a reactive.  Proactive courage leads to preparation.  The reactive gift is the courage to respond.  We need both types of courage.
  • Action – the gift that relies on our inner voice – the gift conscience.
  • Conscience – God’s voice of “purpose.”  It answers the purpose question “Why me?”  Purpose is the gift that reveals true opportunities and redirects action to be focused on right actions.  As such, conscience is the voice of character.
  • YOUR True Opportunities – those opportunities that successfully pass through the entire Opportunity Progression.

The Opportunity Tragedy

Lost and wasted opportunities are one human tragedy we all experience.  At this very moment you are on the brink of missing one because you are unaware, afraid, confused, uncommitted, distracted, ungrateful, arrogant and/or uninformed and therefore, unwilling to claim this opportunity.  Although these are the causes of breakdowns in the Opportunity Progression, there is one simple explanation that covers them all…

Lack of preparation is the cause of lost opportunities.
Preparation is a choice.
Therefore, the loss of opportunities is a choice.

We are who we are and where we are because of the daily choices we make regarding our personal preparation.  The loss of opportunities is the result of not spending enough of our finite resources becoming ready.  What areas of preparation am I referring to?

  • Wisdom – where knowledge, context and experience come together.
  • Beliefs – where wisdom joins with perspective, trust and confidence to form a foundation of truth.
  • Values – the beliefs that matter most to one or more individuals based on personal or shared relevance.
  • Attitudes – the way we feel about our beliefs determines the choices and quality of our actions.
  • Understanding – the ability to form judgments based on knowledge and circumstances.
  • Relationships – the way people interact, align, work and bond with one another.
  • Awareness – recognizing and understanding the events and opportunities around us.
  • Skills – the developed aptitudes, abilities and power to do something with competence.

The more we invest in ALL of these areas, the more valuable opportunities will be accessible to us.  It’s a matter of one choice — to prepare or not prepare, that is the question!

— CC


More Small Things That Matter

Mark Masri - 3B
Mark Masri performing in Ohio at a private fundraising event.

And a song can change your life.
A word can open doors.
A melody can take us where we’ve never been before.

A song can change your life.

Mark Masri
Singer/Songwriter

CREATING CONTEXT

Compared with world peace, hurricanes, genuine miracles, and the lottery jackpot, a song, a word and a melody are tiny. Yet, Mark Masri’s song says these three relatively small things can change your life. Do you believe it? I do!  Here’s an illustration.

In a recent golf tournament, our team was down one stroke with only two holes to go. We didn’t know it at the time. (They don’t post scores for amateurs like us.) A birdie on #17 moved us into a tie for the lead. On the final hole, our team executed a 30-foot putt, a firmly stroked shot that hit the back of the cup, popped into the air and came straight down into the hole for another birdie and the lead. Hooray for us!

Soon after, the final group was on their final hole, still down one with a similar putt to tie for the lead. Their putt for birdie also struck the back of the cup and popped into the air. Unfortunately it was a fraction of an inch off center and the ball spun out of the cup. This tiny amount demonstrates how a small difference matters big. Swap that fraction of an inch and they win, not us.

Collectively, from the first hole to the 18th, the winning team’s golf balls traveled over 14 miles. Yet, the difference between winning and second place was determined by something so small it’s hard to measure, except for the outcome. Small things DO matter! Did it change our lives? Hardly! But, within the context of winning a tournament it was huge. On the other hand, small difference-makers like this happen all the time at the highest levels of golf where careers are at stake.

“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.” –Arthur Conan Doyle

SMALL THINGS THAT CHANGE LIVES

So, maybe you’re wondering what examples of small things could really change someone’s life?  Well, today I started a list.  It has 80 examples that could make a positive difference for you and others.  Don’t be surprised if you visit this post again someday and discover a bigger list.

  • A hearty smile
  • A warm hug
  • A loving kiss
  • A friendly wink
  • A firm handshake
  • A gentle reminder
  • A helping hand
  • A simple act of kindness
  • An inspiring quotation
  • A challenging question
  • A though-provoking question
  • Listening well
  • A timely, insightful answer
  • A fresh perspective
  • An inspiring book or movie
  • Monthly training
  • A weekend retreat
  • A knuckle bump
  • An “Aha Moment”
  • A learning event
  • 5 extra minutes of practice
  • An extra mile of conditioning
  • A thoughtful gift
  • A clean, respectful joke
  • Hearing the sound of your name
  • A word of encouragement
  • A gesture of appreciation
  • A standing ovation
  • Getting up an hour earlier
  • A book every month
  • Taking notes
  • An invitation
  • A song (can change your life)
  • A billboard
  • A singing telegram
  • Replacing the plug after an oil change
  • Proper lighting
  • Arriving 10 minutes early
  • Saving & investing $20 every week
  • Clock set at the right time
  • Favorite color
  • Scheduling priorities
  • Writing in your journal daily
  • Working on your vocabulary
  • A positive mental attitude
  • An attitude of gratitude
  • A fresh idea
  • A meaningful picture
  • A treasured memory
  • Words of hope
  • A warm fire
  • A call to action
  • A soft pillow
  • A quiet dinner
  • A favorite snack
  • A cool glass of spring water
  • A friendly wave
  • A high five
  • An unexpected, unsolicited favor
  • A pat on the back
  • A gracious compliment
  • An honorable recognition
  • A wonderful surprise
  • A greeting card
  • A glorious celebration
  • A completed task
  • The birth of a little bitty baby
  • A child’s first words
  • A child’s first steps
  • A story
  • A drawing
  • A painting
  • A favorite chair
  • Other firsts in a child’s life
  • A winter coat
  • Tying your shoes
  • Looking both ways before crossing
  • Praying every morning
  • An attitude of gratitude
  • A haircut
  • Planned repetition
  • A facial expression
  • Remembering a special occasion

The lesson is this: Don’t underestimate the power of small! What is small in deed can be huge in outcome, especially when it’s repeated frequently.  What could you do today to create “a small, but big” experience for someone you know or encounter?  What if that person was YOU?  Either way, how would that improve your life?

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