When I lived in Russia, I invested quite a bit of time learning the language. With a lot of effort and practice, I got to the point where I could sit with a group of people and track two or three conversations at once, just the way I can in English.
One of my language teachers suggested to me that I take the Russian Language Certification exam.
I saw no reason to. My Russian was good enough to communicate well with the people I worked with, and I really didn’t want to spend the time to memorize vocabulary and irregular noun declensions or verb conjugations. Of what possible use would that be to me in the future?
Then I returned to the US. And then I found out that for many jobs, the government paid a differential if you could pass a language test. Knowledge of certain languages paid higher differentials. At the time, the differential for Russian, so they told me, was 100%. That meant if I got a government job paying $50,000 a year, after the differential, I’d make a cool $100K.
A missed opportunity. I didn’t see the connection between learning the finer points of Russian grammar and my future earning potential. Kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees.
I could fill a book will all the times Opportunity knocked on my door and I didn’t think I needed to answer. So now in my older and marginally wiser days, I’m trying not to be so quick to discount possibilities.
Some years ago I joined Toastmasters, to brush up on my speaking skills. Along with the speaking program, there is leadership training. I completed part of the leadership program, not having any thought that it would ever be useful to me.
Now I’m thinking about returning to the business world. Having those certificates may come in handy when I’m looking for a job.
Sometimes seeing an opportunity is all a question of attitude. Recently I was listening to a speaker who I thought was, well, demented. Rather than drive myself crazy listening to her drivel, I got out my notebook and starting making notes of her hand gestures. Really.
She was quite animated and talked a lot with her hands. Watching her speak, I got two or three pages worth of ideas for how my characters can gesture.
Instead of letting that experience become a frustrating waste of time, I answered opportunity’s knock and created a valuable resource for myself.
I’m also contemplating a bigger opportunity. Soon I will complete the ghostwriting of a memoir, and my client and I have been discussing publishing options. Ingram Spark seems to be the best option for what she wants to achieve. The problem is Spark is not a publisher. My client doesn’t want to start her own company.
She offered to pay whatever expenses I incur in setting up my own company, and then publish her book that way. It’s an opportunity.
My first reaction: great!
Then I started thinking about all the work. What about a business license? Tax records? Paying her royalties?
When I shared my concerns with my husband, he was incredulous. “Someone is offering to pay to set you up in business, and you aren’t sure?” He shook his head. “It’s an opportunity! Take it!”
He’s right. So I’m about to seize this opportunity, and see where it takes me. Stay tuned.
I love hearing from you! Does anyone have any stories of their own, of missed opportunities or ones you seized? Share in the comments!