In Greek mythology, Kairos was the god of Opportunity and the youngest son of Zeus. A bronze statue of Kairos depicted him as a youth with winged feet, a long lock of hair hanging down his forehead, and no hair at all on the back. The inscription beneath it read in part:
“What is thy name?” My name is Opportunity. “Why hast thou wings on thy feet?” That I may fly swiftly. “Why has thou a great forelock?” That men may seize me when I am come. “Why are thou bald in back?” That when I go by, none can lay hold of me.
The message of Kairos is clear: Either we grasp hold of Opportunity when it approaches, or it passes us by swiftly and leaves us nothing by which to detain it.
And every experience in life is indeed an opportunity. Life is a precious gift that offers us the opportunity to give something back by becoming more. Over the course of life, each one of us is faced with a continuous series of great opportunities, most of them brilliantly disguised as impossible obstacles. Those obstacles that appear to be most challenging, offer us opportunities to discover deep resources within ourselves – provided we choose an appropriate response.
How are you choosing to respond to the impossible situations of your life? Will they become opportunities for growth and healing, or will you blame others and become less?
The next time you are faced with an impossible situation, choose to see it as an opportunity for your advancement and take a look at some of the keys that will help you grasp hold of it before the opportunity passes.
1. Commit. Success starts with a commitment to the desired outcome. It has very little to do with luck and everything with the commitment to be prepared when opportunity shows up. The great Roman philosopher Seneca taught that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
2. Prepare. One of the best pieces of advice I received from a business mentor early in my career was to be over-prepared and shoot straight arrows. This advice served me well throughout my career, when I would often face tough business negotiations without any prior knowledge of which issues may come up. It is far better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared! Thomas Edison was willing to roll up his sleeves and try out every possible scenario in his experiments to find the solutions that worked. Over the course of his career, he held a world record for 1,093 separate inventions. Edison said that most people miss life’s great opportunity because it shows up dressed in overalls and looks like work!
3. Look For What Works. Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we notice too late the one that is open. Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.
4. Focus. Focus on your potential instead of your limitations. In the world of energy, whatever we focus on, expands. Keep your consciousness totally focused on the present moment so you can receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer. If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still. Take the idea into your mind and rock it to and fro. Keep some of it and throw some away, until it renews itself. Once it is renewed, adjust your focus and go for it!
5. Make The Most Of Every Experience. Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can. Stay present in the process so that you remain aware of all the subtle aspects. Own the process by reviewing what worked and what did not; fine-tune your approach and let go of emotional attachment to the process. When you do this, you are able to distill the lessons you learn from every experience.
6. Be Grateful. Give thanks for the very lessons you have learned during the times you have felt most constrained or overwhelmed. Gratitude will help you stay positive. Time flies by fast, people move in and out of your life, and situations continuously change. Never miss the opportunity to tell people how much they mean to you or to give thanks for what is going right in your life now. Tomorrow everything may look different and the opportunity gone.
7. Stay Open To Possibilities. Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities to come your way. Seize common occasions and make them great! Weakness waits for the golden opportunity that may never show up; strength takes hold of the moment and turns it into a brilliant opportunity.
8. Be Willing To Take Risk. Never fear risk. All exploration, all growth is calculated. Without challenge and risk we cannot reach our highest potential. Only if we are willing to walk over the edge can we experience the true stuff we are made of. It is by risking going ‘too far’ that we learn just how far we can go!
9. Kiss Fear Of Failure Goodbye. Life’s ups and downs provide you with opportunities to determine your true values and goals. You discover your values and goals by exploring and experiencing what they are not – that is not failure; that is learning. Instead of labeling your learning as failure, think of every experience as a stepping stone to build the life you want. The quicker you release the limiting concepts of success and failure, the sooner you will be free to grasp onto new opportunities and to produce fabulous results.
The next time Opportunity knocks, may you be ready to grasp it by the forelock and let its winged feet carry your efforts to full completion!