Power Habit #4: Planning, Preparation & Perseverance – Consolidating Your Opportunity
Consolidating Your Opportunity–I Will
There is opportunity in every day.
But to see opportunities you first must develop the right mindset to be open to them, you must acknowledge that opportunities arise for everybody and not only for a select few.
Then you must look for them and seek them out. You must be vigilant for the signs of opportunity and ready yourself to grab them with both hands.
Only then can you consolidate your opportunities.
How you develop the mindset of consolidating your opportunities is by aligning your Intention with your Attitude.
This means to align your intention to seek out opportunity—vigilance—with the attitude of openness, of not having a closed or judgmental attitude to what presents itself to you.
The extent to which you consolidate your opportunities is best achieved through your willingness to seize the opportunity in every day—what the Romans called Carpe Opportunitas.
Consolidating Your Opportunity—I Will (*From The Power of You: How to Manifest the Life You Want)
Your attitude toward opportunity determines the amplitude of your opportunity.
If you believe only rich people have opportunity, you will not see the opportunities all around you because your attitude blinds you to them.
If you believe only men have opportunity, you will not hear the opportunities all around you because your attitude deafens you to them.
If you believe only white people have opportunity, you will not sense the opportunities all around you because your attitude desensitises you to them.
In regards to making the most of your opportunities in life, I have found that, as much as anything else, your attitude toward opportunity is the defining factor in exploiting all the wonderful opportunities that exist for you.
A closed attitude toward opportunity leads to missed opportunities. An open attitude toward opportunity leads to kissed opportunities.
It doesn’t matter if the world is in recession or depression, or if the world is in riding high in boom times, opportunities always abound and it’s your attitude that determines whether or not you cash in on them.
There was a time in my youth when I had a pretty closed attitude toward opportunity. I thought opportunity happened only to others, not me, especially the rich and privileged.
As a white male graduating from a private school and going on to study medicine at university, I was stone-cold oblivious to the irony of my attitude. Entitled, some would say, but I didn’t feel entitled.
I was the ‘poor kid in a rich school’ and, as such, I felt poor despite my surroundings and privilege. I saw friends and colleagues traveling overseas and snow skiing during the school holidays, while I stayed at home in my working-class suburb on the edge of town or worked in my grandfather’s petrol station to help out and save a bit of money.
Not that I wasn’t grateful for my schooling, I most certainly was and still am, but the comparisons between the wealth of other kids’ families and the struggles of my family, where money was always tight, were magnified in a private school environment.
So, despite my education, I felt poor and underprivileged, which reflected my lack of insight and teenage entitlement. I felt opportunity was only for the rich kids, and that excluded me.
I was resigned to my lot and the way of the world. Essentially, I had victimised myself, and I carried this ‘woe is me’ attitude into my university days.
It wasn’t until the final 2 years of university as a 5th- and 6th-year medical student that my attitude began to change from ‘passive victim’ to ‘active victor’.
Up until then, I rarely took the first step to get what I wanted. I invariably waited for other people to give me what I wanted and was invariably disappointed when they didn’t come up with the goods.
Looking back, I guess I had an attitude of powerlessness and helplessness. Other people, rich people, people in authority, held the power and not me.
They could do whatever they wanted. They had all the opportunities. They had all the fun.
Not me. I was powerless. I had to make do with whatever came my way and scrap for any limited opportunity that just so happened to fall at my feet, if someone else didn’t grab it first.
Then an incident happened that caused me to reassess my attitude to ‘the way of the world’ and my attitude toward myself.
The final years of medical training require a lot of on-site attendance on the wards and in the emergency department from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, and even some weekend and overnight assignments.
The hours are long and tiring, which is why most hospitals have a student mess tucked away in the building where exhausted students can slump in a chair and put their feet up for a while, maybe catch up with what’s happening with friends and colleagues, have a bite to eat, and even catch the news or a soap opera on TV before heading back to the wards.
The old Royal Adelaide Hospital where I was training in the late 80s and early 90s had a student mess on the 7th floor of the main building. The room was spacious and overlooked the front entrance, but it was tired and in dire need of a coat of paint. The chairs puffed dust whenever you plonked down on them, and the faded lounge cushions had a permanent indentation from years of use.
Despite its dreariness, there was always a constant stream of students coming in and out, a little oasis where you could put the mayhem of the medical and surgical wards out of sight and out of earshot for just a while to catch your breath and settle your mind. But it lacked the most important thing of all—a pinball machine.
For the good part of 9 months, I tried with no avail to get the student committee to approve the installation of a pinball machine in the mess room. The committee members were in charge of everything that was allowed and not allowed in the mess. They had the power and I, because I wasn’t on the committee, didn’t.
I tried to reason with them and convince them of the benefits of having a pinball machine would have on student morale, but they just weren’t interested. Everything I said fell on deaf ears.
I was frustrated, and as the months went on I became angrier and resentful, as much as their reluctance to act on my requests as I was with my powerless to do something about it.
Then one lunchtime, while I was mulling over the unreasonableness of the student committee and the unfairness of life in general, a voice in my head said, “Scott, why don’t you just do it yourself?”
The idea paralysed me for a minute, but not my brain. Why not? I thought to myself. Why don’t I just go and buy a pinball machine and put it in the mess myself?
Spurred with sudden enthusiasm, I quickly tracked down my friend and fellow medical student, Mark, who thought it was a fantastic idea. We rushed out of the hospital and drove to the nearest pinball repairer and purchased a secondhand pinball machine called Mata Hari for only A$200.
That evening, when most students had left the hospital, we transported the pinball machine to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, took it up the elevator, and installed it into the empty corner of the student mess.
It was an instant success. Students, mostly males of course, crowded around the machine for hours on end.
Even better, the student committee didn’t say a word.
The machine took 20c pieces and by the end of the week we had over A$100 in silver coins, which we lugged down the lobby escalator to the onsite bank and deposited into our newly-opened, joint savings account.
By the end of the second week, the machine had paid itself off, and within a month we had bought our second machine. Two months after that, we bought a third machine.
For the next two years my friend and I pocketed more than A$100 per week each in profit, which more than paid for our social life and kept us very happy.
To put this in perspective, I would have needed A$100,000 in a savings account working at 5% interest to receive the equivalent amount each year. Or in today’s low-interest environment, I’d need A$500,000 working at 1% per annum.
Remember, this all happened during the recession of the early 90s, when jobs were scarce and businesses were shutting down and boarding up.
I tell this story to highlight two points. First, I was blind to the opportunity of making a passive income through pinball machines for 9 months because of my ‘poor me’ victim mentality.
Because of my attitude that it was someone else’s responsibility to provide what I wanted, I missed seeing the opportunity that was waiting for me like a puppy in that empty corner of the mess room from Day 1.
This first lesson follows along the same lines as to what Zig Ziglar said:
“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”
This, therefore, is the lesson I learned and have been mindful of for over 30 years:
When I was prepared to take responsibility for myself and what I wanted, the opportunity unveiled itself.
My ventures into pinball entrepreneurship also revealed something extraordinary: opportunity is everywhere.
There’s always opportunity, no matter your economic or social environment, no matter your job or what upbringing you have.
That was my second lesson. Opportunity is as omnipresent as the air we breathe. Not a day goes by without opportunity being within your grasp.
So if that’s the case, all you need to do is make sure that you prepare yourself with an open attitude.
Then you’re ready to seize your opportunity and turn it into success.