When the Door Opens, Will you Be Ready to Walk Through?

We talk about walking through the right door as “luck.” Someone wise once told me that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Every day we have options and we make choices. When the door opens, will you be ready to walk through? In my profession, we think about this often, though this is true in life generally. If we prepare thoughtfully, we will know which direction to go.

Let Go of Yesterday’s Fears 

The truth of what happened to us in the past and the fear of what failure may happen in the future can hold us back from trying new things today. 

Early in my career I had a big first meeting with a donor who after ten minutes asked “What can I do for you?” His candor caught me off guard. I murmured something about being grateful for his time and how we hoped to get him more involved. He gave me the opening and I hesitated. Because I was afraid to ask, I missed an opportunity. 

I could have let that first experience intimidate me; in this instance, it could have changed my career path. Instead I realized that asking itself was my opportunity to help others. Many years later, I train every new fundraiser to anticipate this question. By teaching my staff to be prepared, I have channeled that fear into positively guiding others.

In life you get limited chances to ask, whether for your job or for yourself. It is not always the same ask. You are not the same you every day. Take on whatever your challenge is today, leveraging your strengths and unencumbered by yesterday’s fear.

If You Are Not Looking Up, You May Miss the Signs 

In order to take advantage of opportunity, we have to recognize it. In our daily routines, we operate out of habit, often without noticing anything new. Or worse, we are looking down at our devices, not paying attention to what is in front of us. We are missing the chance to acknowledge the world around us, what has changed and who is in it with us.

I am guilty of successfully addressing multiple issues on email while walking to a meeting, but I can arrive at a destination without really knowing what happened on the way there. Recently when traveling in New York City, I found myself walking several blocks out of my way while I typed on my iPhone. At a crosswalk, I ran into one of my most treasured mentors in the world—the one who took the chance on hiring me as a college student and showed me the direction for the wonderful career I have now. Neither he nor I live in New York; it just so happened we were both there on business crossing the same street at the same time...And I looked up. Having the chance to connect with him made my day. These seemingly small encounters have the power to change our lives. Not every door leads to amazing things; we have to be willing to explore the possibilities. How many times are we looking down and missing the signs?

Being prepared means acknowledging what you have, where you are, who you are and actively seeking to be your best self. Meaningful preparation requires patience.

How are you preparing? This is your opportunity. It’s a new year; the door is open.