How many of you are frustrated because you have had to put your dreams on hold through no fault of your own? How many of you have "put something on the backburner" knowing that it's never come to the front burner again? Whether it's finding love or a life partner, getting a career back on track or starting the business of your dreams, getting in shape, quitting drinking or simply taking a vacation, the answer to success is not to wait for the right opportunity to come along. It is to turn whatever opportunity exists right now into the outcome of your dreams.
As a meditation instructor and coach, I help people overcome life-defeating hurdles every day. Some are deep-set issues layered with years of frustration and aggravation. Others are fairly straightforward problems once we unpeel the stress and distractions that overshadow the right decisions. Regardless of the issue, what is consistent for everyone is that waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along rarely results in success. Instead, it results in no change at all. If you truly want growth, if you want to move your life in a new direction, then taking action on the opportunities at hand is the only way to do so.
In the past you might have said things like "I'm getting my ducks lined up," or "The timing's not quite right." Perhaps you reconsidered altogether, telling yourself that "things are pretty good right now, so why rock the boat?" There is nothing wrong with saying any of this as long as you're content with where you are, because each of these thoughts is just another way of saying, "I'm not going to do anything right now."
Life moves pretty quickly. So quickly that it sometimes seems as if your plans keep getting swept aside. Maybe some unforeseen event derailed your plans. Perhaps your job was terminated, or your boyfriend or girlfriend found someone new. Maybe the world economy fell apart, and took your company with it. Maybe you found out you had seven brain tumors. No matter what the reason, that's all in the past. It is now 2013. What are you going to do to refine your life into the one you want it to be? Maybe it will not be perfect, but at least it will be one that you are passionate about living.
If that is truly what you want, then don't wait for the perfect opportunity to come along. The right opportunity is already there in a less-than-perfect form. You just need to take what exists and make it perfect; and that is often easier than it seems.
Don't believe me? Look around. The simple truth is that not one success story in all mankind started with a perfect moment. Not one happy ending has been based on people waiting for the perfect opportunity to move forward. Every light at the end of the tunnel one is based on people taking what they know and turning average opportunities into great outcomes.
Bill Gates famously created Microsoft by jumping on an opportunity without a program ready to go or even a clear-cut way to deliver it. Steve Jobs created Apple not by having the perfect idea ready to go, but by running with what he had and by perfecting it along the way.
Why do you think we have the term 2.0? Why do you think Thomas Edison had 10,000 failures before creating a light bulb that worked? When Mr. Edison was asked if he felt like a failure because of this, Edison replied, "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work."
In 2012 President Barack Obama made the decision to go after Osama bin Laden on what his security advisor referred to as being "probably a 50-50 chance" that Osama bin Laden was there. His action paid off.
All of these examples and thousands more are there because in the real world, 100 percent perfect does not exist. We live in a world of imperfections. In most cases 80 percent is about as close to 100 percent as you're ever going to get, and a 50/50 chance is more than enough to make an educated go of it. In the real world, there are no perfect opportunities. So learn to make the most of the opportunities at hand as they come along. Those are what create gold.
In an interview about the raid on Osama bin Laden, Tom Donilon told CNN's Candy Crowley, "It was a circumstantial case ... But what he had 100 percent confidence in was the ability of our special forces to execute the mission," and therein lies the difference. Faith in yourself versus faith in the opportunity.
There is a tremendous difference between waiting for a 100 percent perfect moment, and making 100 percent of the opportunity given to you. That difference starts well before any opportunity comes along. It starts with you believing in yourself. It starts with you having the experience, the faith and the perseverance to look at an opportunity, whether it's for a job or a partner in life, to assess it for what it is, and to being able to commit to making it real.
Still not sure what I mean? Making an opportunity real means:
• Looking: I constantly tell my clients that it all starts with awareness. Any kind of life transformation starts with keeping your eyes open and constantly looking for opportunities, while remaining grounded enough to see them for what they are without glossing over their shortcomings. Someone fresh out of the gate can't do this, they simply don't have the life experiences it takes. So embrace your life experiences; they are what will help you see the opportunity for what it is without being blinded by your own excitement.
• Acting: The worst action you can take in life is no action at all. If you don't act, nothing will ever happen. By sitting and waiting for the perfect opportunity, you miss all the good opportunities that come along -- opportunities that, with the right experience, could be nurtured in whatever direction you want to take them. So override your fear when the right opportunity comes along. Do it with prudence, but do it.
• Experiencing: The key to bringing about success in your personal or professional life is taking the time to learn and to experience, so that you have the right knowledge you need to turn an average opportunity into brilliance. If it's a loving relationship you want, you need to know what the quality of that love is. If it's a successful business you want, you need to understand how your industry works and what it takes to create a successful business. Neither of these things comes along from reading books. They come from living, learning, failing and trying again. Edison tried 10,000 times. The Navy SEALs train thousands of hours, so that they knew what to do no matter what comes along -- that means they can turn an average 50/50 opportunity into a world-changing event. My parents, married for 50 years, were constantly learning how to refine their relationship through children, careers, tragedies and triumphs, every time learning what worked and what didn't. Their love is still there today. So embrace your experiences, for every experience is a lesson for the future.
• Embracing setbacks: In many ways, this is the most important part to living your life your way -- knowing that setbacks are not the same thing as failure. A setback is when you stumble and fall down. A failure is when you don't get back up. There is not a single doubt in my mind that you will trip and fall. I can guarantee there will be seemingly insurmountable hurdles to overcome -- some physical, some mental, some spiritual. They are the opportunity to learn, to grow and to ready yourself for success at a later time.
Remember, life can be a wonderful journey if you nurture it. Believe in yourself and embrace the path you are on and it will be a never ending experience that will flourish. Don't content yourself with what you have, or where you are
The simple truth is that opportunities in life are all around you. They are always out there. So too are the issues. Industries will rise and fall, economies will grow and crumble and people will come and go. Each will create new opportunities while closing the doors on old ones. Waiting for the perfect one to come along has never been the answer to success, happiness, or simply creating the life you want to live.
Taking an educated chance on the one you believe in is. So get yourself ready for the chance of a lifetime living your life and by constantly looking, acting, experiencing, and embracing your life in all its forms.
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