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When Opportunity Knocks You Have to Go For It

You can’t always wait for opportunity to knock. If you’re in high school, you have a TON of opportunities at your fingertips. Even if someone isn’t begging you to start a new club or join theirs, opportunity is constantly knocking at your door. It’s called strolling the hallways of your high school – if you look up, you’ll see signs of opportunity knocking pretty much everywhere: “Join the Executive Board!” “Audition for the Musical!” “Write for The School Newspaper.” Sure, no one has asked you personally to join these opportunities, but these are all opportunities knocking at YOUR door. You just have to tune in to listen to them.

All this opportunity knocking, decision-making, passion-pursuing doesn’t end in high school. I’ll tell you a story of mine. Last fall, I had a chance to become a panelist in The School of the New York Times’ Symposium on College Admissions. It was a true honor. The same week of the Symposium, the NYT asked me to be interviewed on camera as part of a new course that they were launching—a last-minute opportunity for me.

You may think I have it all together, but I was freaking out about the opportunity and the short notice. I had only 72 hours to conceptualize how I might answer my questions, assemble resources, and decide the structure of the modules I was running. Believe me, I had other commitments during those 72 hours, but I set most of them aside because I knew that this opportunity was scary big, and it might not come again if I screwed it up.

So I gave it my best, I organized my material, and went on camera. And you know what? It went pretty darn well.

Now, don’t be so impressed that I put things together in 72 hours. The truth is I had been prepping for this opportunity much longer through what I had already done—time advising students, knowledge of resources for college admissions and leadership development, experience on camera, etc. I just didn’t think I knew what I was doing on this opportunity because I hadn’t done that particular opportunity before.

Same for you – you may never have joined an executive board, but you’ve been preparing for it all your life. Whether it was babysitting a sibling, helping your parents with errands, or keeping to a regular study schedule, ALL of these things have prepared you to organize, lead, and provide ideas.

The opportunities that you see knocking –whether someone offers them to you or you decide to pursue them yourself –have challenges that you’re capable of meeting.

For me, what I learned from my experience is that no one is going to suggest you for an opportunity that you’re not capable of.

Have you ever been surprised to be offered an opportunity, only to be scared off by it? So you didn’t do it, or you screwed it up because you didn’t give it enough attention? Me too. It’s a lifelong journey to overcome the fear. But the fear is worth overcoming, because you can and it will be worth it. Fear is just gut instinct with little basis in reality.

So tell me: What will it take for you to be able to tune in to the opportunities knocking around you? What priorities do you need to reshuffle for you to make space for a new activity or adventure in your life? How will you stop being afraid of fear?

I’ll look forward to your response.

Until next time….

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