Let me ask you something about opportunity… When was the last time you seized an opportunity when it came your way? This can be professionally or in your personal life.
Or are you like a lot of people and wait, worry, evaluate, and wiffle-waffle until the opportunity just passes you by? Maybe you’ll get a second chance or maybe not. Regardless, there’s always the wonder of what might have been if you had simply stepped up and seized the opportunity with both hands when it first presented itself.
In November 2014, I traveled to Cambodia on a service trip with Global Dental Relief. I was there to serve as a non-dental volunteer for an organization whose mission is to provide free dental care to children all around the world. You can learn more about the work they do at www.GlobalDentalRelief.org
For 6 days I worked side-by-side with a team of dentists, interpreters, and other volunteers to provide free dental care to kids. Let me tell you it wasn’t exactly what I expected! I wasn’t on the trip to go on vacation but to serve – I just expected to be serving by teaching kids how to brush their teeth and playing games while they waited their turn in the chair.
Instead I was working side-by-side with a dentist whose expertise was extractions. I learned how to pack gauze and run a suction hose like a pro!
Over the course of 6 days we saw a total of 847 patients. Some were really excited to have their teeth cleaned, cavities filled, and rotten teeth removed. Others were completely out of their comfort zones to say the least!
After the clinic closed each evening we got the opportunity to join tours to experience the local customs, including visiting the local street markets. The markets offer everything from socks to vegetables to local “fast food”… including crickets! I wanted to try them but I spent so long working up the nerve, my group moved on and I had to go or risk being left behind. I missed my opportunity because I was too scared about the texture, worried about the taste, and (legitimately) concerned about the legs.
Sadly, no crickets for me.
The very next day a second chance to try crickets presented itself (along with eating silk worms, fish paste, and a very dry-looking frog). I knew right away that this second chance was a gift, and I had to seize it!
And the crickets I was so worried about trying?
They tasted like popcorn and had the consistency of a chip. Nope, you can’t eat just one! REALLY.
I was so grateful for my second chance! I know that eating crickets might be something strange to be grateful for but I know all too well that most opportunities do NOT come with a second chance.
OK, so my opportunity was just crickets. So what? A much more poignant example presented itself the next day…
A teenage girl came into the clinic on the very last day and because some other procedures were running long, we were able to check her out and get her squeezed in as a last minute appointment.
Imagine being 13-years-old, never having had any dental care at all, and being offered the opportunity to change your health. At her initial intake exam, it was discovered she needed four fillings and two extractions – the teeth were so decayed they couldn’t be saved.
While there wasn’t enough time left in the day to do everything, there was plenty of time to get her started on the path to better dental health. And I’m sure you know that better dental health leads to better health over all!
But this girl was terrified of getting into the dentist chair. She was completely unable to step outside her comfort zone. Even though she had seen first-hand the results of her friends having gone before, even though she was started on the path to fix her teeth, she was too afraid to move forward. (Note: If her family can scrape up enough money to go to a local dentist, all her treatments including extractions will be done with NO anesthetic!)
Her fear got in the way.
Like my fear got in the way of trying the crickets…
When does fear get in your way?
This 13-year-old girl missed her opportunity and has no idea when or if it will come again. Can you imagine what life is like with SIX TEETH that need serious dental attention?
So when have you allowed your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass you by? And why?
Most people resist grabbing that opportunity with both hands and running with it for one reason: FEAR. Fear of looking like a fool, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of what other people might say, or just plain-old fear of the unknown that twists your stomach into knots.
While seizing an opportunity can feel like jumping off a cliff, it’s also a leap of faith toward your unique contribution to the world. And there are very few times when you can’t look to other people and follow their example of leaping.
The scared little girl couldn’t look at all the other kids who had successfully seized the opportunity of dental care, mastered their fears, had the needed procedures done, and skipped out the door pain-free for the first time in months. After the first two days of the clinic, we had a huge rush of kids to get signed up because they saw how much “fun” their friends had had and wanted to participate. (No, really. They actually used the word “fun” in their native language.)
I’m not saying that visiting a dentist is in any way, shape, or form fun for most of us. But these kids could see the opportunity before them and grabbed it.
Think of it this way: for me, going to the dentist is no big deal – but eating a cricket was something I really had to work up the nerve to do. For that little girl, crickets were part of her everyday living – and sitting in a dentist chair was an opportunity she couldn’t grasp because she was clouded by fear.
There are very few “do-overs” in life. Second chances usually don’t come.
How will your life improve when you’re ready to eat the crickets? When you’re ready to reach out and grab hold of the opportunity that’s in front of you and not wait for the unlikely second chance?
We’re on the eve of 2015 – your opportunity to start over, seize an opportunity, and improve your life.
I’m looking for 6 committed people who are ready to end the struggle of work/life balance and make 2015 your greatest year EVER. Are you one of them? I’m booking strategy sessions now.