20 Nov Grab every opportunity in your teenage years
What do you hope and wish for that keeps you awake at night? What wants and desires creep into your mind during the day that you can’t seem to shake off? What would you do if opportunity knocks on you?
Dreaming of a better life
Everyone does. Whether it’s dreaming of being healthier, wealthier, more successful, or to be loved, to get that big break or to go on an exciting adventure. At your time in life you might be wishing for top marks in your exams in order to open doors for future education or career opportunities. It might be the ideal present for a big milestone birthday or a dream holiday that you are now old enough to enjoy.
Wishing and hoping helps you to expand your horizons, but it’s important to remember that opportunity needs to be seized and decisions may not always be that easy. A chance encounter could change everything, but what would you do?
Whereas one person will be exhilarated at the thought of an opportunity, even if it’s big and scary, another person will be full of fear and anxiety. I find these very different responses fascinating because it really is down to two sides of the same coin.
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
– Albert Einstein
Do you relish an opportunity or do you run and hide?
I’ve encountered several big decision situations over the last few years. One such occasion a few weeks ago got me thinking and I wanted to ask you a serious question – when opportunity does knock and you can see a new pathway, do you answer with open arms and dive right in or do you run as fast as you can in the opposite direction?
Imagine this, an out of the blue phone call proposes a university interview or a seat on a local radio or TV panel show in a subject you are passionate about. Wow, a chance to embark on your chosen career or an opportunity to be in the limelight and put your viewpoint across – is this a break you would grasp with both hands?
Do you embrace new experiences or fear them? Many people miss out on life changing magical experiences because they are scared of what that opportunity might bring and they fear change.
You can choose one way or the other, but the decision is based on what you see in your head. It dictates how you feel about the opportunity presented and ultimately impacts on what you do or don’t do.
I believe that when you wish big in terms of hopes and dreams, they will appear and they will stretch you. They will test you. They will allow you to learn, grow and expand who you are. You will be taken out of your comfort zone to reach new heights, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
– Winston Churchill
What would you do?
Try out this exercise and be honest with the decisions you would take. These scenarios are real life opportunities I have encountered over the past twelve months. Consider why you would take or turn down an opportunity and highlight areas that you might need to work on in terms of confidence and negative versus positive self-talk.
Flying through the sky
An amazing and incredible lady who has raised millions for Cancer Research wanted to do a jump out of plane to raise even more money and asked for volunteers to jump with her.
Of course I jumped at the chance (excuse the pun) and signed up for the tandem dive at 10,000 feet. I loved every minute of it, but when I tell people they often say ‘no way, you wouldn’t get me up there’.
Would you have leaped up and shouted ‘I’m up for it’ or would you have sat on your hands and kept silent?
I took the chance and trusted in the process and the instructor and raised lots of money for a well-deserved charity. Sometimes you’ll do more for other people than you will for yourself. Think about this carefully. Have you stepped out of your comfort zone to do more for others than you would for yourself?
Flying across the world to stand on a pedestal
Sitting in the garden relaxing on a summer evening, my phone rang. I didn’t jump to answer it because it was the weekend, but I noticed it was someone influential that I know and the call was coming from Singapore. Random I know! The curiosity was too much so I called back and my colleague explained about a brilliant opportunity to speak at the International Business Federation University launch in front of hundreds of people. There would be influential people present from Singapore, China, Malaysia, the US, Europe and all expenses, including flights and accommodation, would be paid for. This was a huge opportunity for me. But it was the following Monday and I would need to fly out on the Saturday.
What would you do? Would you fly halfway around the world for a couple of days for a school trip that required you to present your views in front of hundreds of fellow students?
Although this opportunity was massive I had to graciously decline. I was already committed to delivering a three-day course. As much as I would have loved to seize this chance of a lifetime my ethical barometer was going haywire and I couldn’t let my clients down.
Sharing opinions with the nation
I was just about to go into a meeting when my phone rang with no caller ID. I assumed it would be a sales call, but took the chance and answered. My gosh, it was BBC Radio 5 Live asking me to take part in the 5 Live Drive show that very day! Their researchers had read a LinkedIn article I’d written and wanted to talk about it in more detail. This was a dream phone call for me. It wasn’t just local radio it was national! Think about how many people would hear me! My brain was scrambled, but of course I said yes. A couple of hours later I was connected to 5 Live studio via my local BBC Radio Stoke studio and my air time was about ten minutes, which is long for radio. I felt so proud and it gave me massive exposure for the work I do with vulnerable teenagers. Had that call been made the day before I wouldn’t have picked it up because I was training all day. You see, I’ve always wanted to do more radio work so my dreaming became a reality. Be careful what you wish for J
If you had the chance to talk about your favourite hobby or academic subject on the radio, would you jump at the chance or shy away? If you choose anxiety instead of excitement when a situation like this presents itself what could you be missing out on in the future? Where else would this lead? How much more could you be capable of? Test yourself and expand your experiences and skills. Can you think of any opportunities that came along and you regret not taking them? Ask yourself why and work on overcoming any fears and anxieties.
“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Choose the life you want to lead
Opportunities are everywhere and as a teenager they will help to shape your life. You need to look for them and grasp them every single time. I guarantee they will make you a better person and you will achieve more and enjoy life more.
I’d love to hear what big chances you have taken and how they improved your life, skills or mindset. Please do connect with me on social and share your thoughts below or email if you want to talk in confidence.
Grab every chance in your teenage years and embrace opportunities, as they may never come along again.