"Knock, Knock!" Says a mysterious source. "Who's there?" I reply. "Why, it's Opportunity, of course! Are you ready for the ride of your life?"
There are those rare occasions in life when opportunity knocks, and sometimes you answer, while other times you don't know how to respond or "freeze," or maybe the timing isn't there. However, we always want to make the best of an opportunity. You catch someone smiling at you, and you get their phone number; You win on a lottery ticket; The game winning shot depends on you.. "3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Bbzzzztt!!!" And the crowd goes wild as you score. Your team wins the big game.
Well, what's happening here? Were you standing in the right place at the right time? Did you feel lucky? Did you prepare yourself? ... Are you Ready? "Well ... Let's go for a ride, shall we? Come on ... Get in. Put your seatbelt on! I always have time for you, Opportunity." And we're off!
The movie Boiler Room was produced in the year 2000. Giovanni Ribisi (Seth) is the main character and Nicky Katt (Greg), Vin Deisel (Chris) and Ben Affleck (Jim) play the parts of his superiors. The plot outline is stated as: A college dropout gets a job as a stock broker for a suburban investment firm, which puts him on the fast track to success (equals opportunity), but the job might not be as legitimate as it sounds.
In this movie, I have found a two quotes that have helped me design an outline that I use when opportunity knocks. The first quote is from Seth: "I had a very strong work ethic. The problem was my ethics in work."
Now this quote seemed odd at first as the character realizes his potential, but he chooses to go the high road about it. Seth knows that his job will not last forever. He is operating an illegal homemade casino that is filled with college kids who spend all of their money in this hole in the wall, two bedroom apartment that is full of activities like Texas Hold 'em, Blackjack, and sports gambling. He is good at what he is doing (for what he calls a profession). However, he has to work very hard at keeping this homemade business up and running, while his freedom is at risk in operating this kind of business and letting this business support him. When he could be working smarter and looking towards the future. It also seemed like Seth had no real direction in life, besides the casino business.
Then, there was a knock at the front door and who was standing there? Why, "Opportunity" was standing there: dressed in a black suit, drove a red Ferrari and was ready to gamble. This man at the door was a stock broker who had heard about a late night gambling scene that was open in the early hours of the morning (Seth's apartment). By chance, Seth asked the right questions (seeking knowledge) and landed himself a job as a Jr. (trainee) Stock Broker.
Now this is a movie, and I know it's fantasy. However, I interpreted this as: because of Seth's personality and characteristics, he was prepared to make the best of this opportunity. That was the key! Preparation, and working smarter, not harder; along with a little luck and standing in the right place at the right time. Seth had the work ethic, he just needed the direction to apply himself. So, as I looked around I took some time to really decide if I was prepared for the success that is to come from the goals that I had set for myself. And also, how could I apply the rules of working smarter and not harder to help prepare myself for future success.
It all started with getting organized. And, not just organizing my closet or anything like that (well yeah, that too), but I'm talking about organizing life priorities. We all have them. They (priorities) have the ability to change, become out of order, lose interest, become outdated or outlandish, gain importance, and some can be spontaneous, and some deserve to be first on our list of things to do. Now, I took the time to map out my weekly schedule hour by hour, on a piece of paper. I eliminated the things that I considered "time wasters." Sometimes, you never know how much time is actually wasted during the period, of say ... a week, or a month ... now multiply that by twelve. And sometimes, there's a better way to organize, this just helped me. Also, it is "free time, and what we do with that time" that helps us discover the things about ourselves that we may want to prepare for, embark on, and revise (or practice), and give structure to the ideas we pick up along the way. Sometimes, it's the epiphany you get right before you fall asleep (in the very last minute before you lose consciousness) ... so keep a pen and paper nearby to write it down. And sometimes, you have to create time to take advantage of an opportunity.
That's the importance of prioritizing and organizing: Making time to prepare for what lies ahead. It could even be that you are just in the right place at the right time, when opportunity knocks. Maybe someone retires at your work and you receive a promotion to their position: Are you prepared? Did you see it coming? Did you do anything to prepare for a situation like this; maybe putting yourself in charge of certain situations, versus taking a back seat approach, beforehand, to prepare yourself? And, do you have a back-up plan?
Well, if you were prepared, then you would be ready to, and more willing and able to accept an uncomfortable situation, and adapt to it with the best of your abilities. Which is a lot better than running away, hiding from, or even ignoring the inevitable (problems that may be insignificant or forgotten about, but they build up like an avalanche only to come tumbling down with one wrong move). Seth had the work ethic, just not the right ethics about his work. So when the time came to change, he accepted it and worked hard to prepare for success.
So let's see what have we picked up so far:
- Adapting to your surroundings
- Embracing "the change."
I know it's a lot, but we're talking it in steps.
Then in a speech given by Seth's boss, Jim (played by Ben Affleck), he stands up and says:
I want to talk to you about appearance. Most of you dress like sh*t. I know what your financial situation is like right now (not good), but you need to buy at least one decent suit. There is a minimum level of aesthetic professionalism that we have here. In a couple of months you'll be able to outfit your whole closet, but for now, just get something to hold you over. There's an important phrase that we use here and I think it's time you all learned it. "Act as if". Do you understand what that means? Act as if you are the f*cking president. Act as if you have a nine inch **** (ummm, I have to clean this one up a little) Twig and Berries . Act as if. To do this properly you need to at least look the part. So go get dressed. Motion creates emotion.
What is being said here is Rude! And a little insensitive, but there is a point here. If you had prepared and had studied how to play the role of "the leader" (or however you relate to it), then take the second step of the process in dressing for success (look the part). Feel the change coming, embrace it. Keep a certain level of "professionalism" about yourself and then execute. Act the part.
The underlining theme here is taking it in steps, one step at a time. You build a skyscraper from the foundation, the ground up. At one point and time, the Empire State Building was just a foundation, a hole in the ground with cement walls and a cement floor. Look at what that turned into. So, for me it's like: Foundation (studying), then framework (planning), then on to testing and revision (practicing), styles and strategies (look), then executing. That's what I got out of these two quotes and the skyscraper example. Hey, who really likes to embark on change in a strait shot anyway? Well, some of us do, but sometimes we're forced to. And sometimes, it can be the some of scariest and hardest decisions we make, or are forced into making as humans. However, the more you put yourself in these uncomfortable situations (like leadership roles), then the more comfortable they become, or the more comfortable you will feel about yourself when you enter these situations.
But don't forget that sometimes a decision we make, may be a wrong decision. That's where preparation and revision as to what we plan on doing, is essential. Look at this example of preparation: before a surfer can ride a wave (let's call it the wave of success), he puts sunblock on to protect himself from ultraviolet rays (if he is prepared to stay out there and achieve his goal in riding waves; if at first he doesn't succeed than he will try and try again). He used caution, preparation, and he dressed for success. No sunblock = Ouch! Sunburn! And a painful week of trying to avoid contact with those painful areas that are sunburned, and it's all thought, action and consequence. And also, how we interpret, and what we make of an opportunity when it arrives makes a big difference. Just Like the huge wave that the surfer keeps his eye out for (while enjoying himself in the meantime); or like Seth, looking to make the "stock sales call of a lifetime." But, prepare and revise before you execute because sometimes you can get burned!
In the dating world, work smarter and not harder. Wake up and dress for success. Go get coffee and flirt with the girl (or guy, if you're a girl reader) who makes your coffee for you in the morning. Smile politely, leave (or choose to brave, but be prepared) and get ready to ride the next wave (however big or small it may be). Because it's being able to bounce back, while ready, willing, and able for when the next opportunity that comes, is what's important. Let the world say "I like the way he/she carries himself" (Act as if; if you have to). And remember, these are just some ideas to prepare and revise before you come across that moment when it's time to execute, take advantage of, and make the best of an opportunity that's not going knock twice. Why ad-lib, when you can prepare and make calculated measures, and movements. So if they like to say "Once bitten, Twice shy;" well then how about "Once prepared, Twice as Easy."
So as I ask Opportunity, "where would you like to be dropped off?"
He says "Right here is fine; your destiny is my destination! Thanks for the lift!"