By E. Elizabeth Carter
In my life, I have felt the greatest fulfillment when I opened myself up to new opportunities. Have I sometimes been scared or anxious? YES! Have I tried to talk myself out of it? Sometimes! Have others criticized me for doing something that they would never do? Absolutely, but that is what has set me apart from some others. I am willing to keep an open mind and see where the journey leads me.
The problem most of us face when a new opportunity is staring us in the face is fear. We may actually feel light-headed and/or feel like we were punched in the gut when we have an opportunity to do something that is so out of our comfort zone. My reaction to this is “what do I have to lose?” Maybe some money and/or time spent, but the rewards could be tenfold in terms of personal achievement and satisfaction.
In the workplace, many leaders don’t realize that what keeps employees from leaving is that they want to be challenged. I have interviewed thousands of people and many will say “I am stuck”, “I can’t move up in my organization”, AND “I want new challenges, but I am not getting them because the company does things a certain way”. What a waste of talent! The issue is that many leaders are fearful that the employees/team may fail. They are worried about what it will cost the organization if they do fail and what it will do to their reputation.
Many of the best inventions and start-ups were due to someone seeing an opportunity and capitalizing on it. They may have had a few false starts along the way but weren’t they worth it? This is the way I handle opportunities that come my way. I roughly calculate how many hours this may entail, and I also figure out if there are any costs associated with it. I then determine if it is worth it. As an example, I was asked to teach an undergraduate course at a prominent university. I had never taught at this level before, but I saw it as an opportunity to interact with Millenials and iGens, which would help me when I am coaching/speaking/training to older generations. Although I was nervous at first, I realized that they viewed me as someone who could not only teach them about a particular topic, but also provide them with career guidance which I have lots of experience in. It has been very rewarding to hear how they apply what they learn, and they are also teaching me things that I did not know. A win-win!
Next time you are faced with an opportunity you are not sure you should pursue, write out all your concerns and also what you would gain from that experience. By seeing it on paper, you can then determine if this is the right opportunity for you or not. It also may not be the right time and you can pursue it later. Whatever you decide, don’t have regrets. We tend to remember our regrets for the rest of our lives.