Are You TRULY Seizing Opportunities Presented To You?
A Hectic Morning and an Unexpected Call
This morning my call display lit up shortly after 9am. It was an impromptu call from a friend and fellow hockey coach. As usual, my crazy schedule had rendered my “blog notes” folder completely empty for this week’s post. And an unexpected run to the grocery store to pick up supplies for the kids’ lunches had left me behind in starting my workday. I was feeling rather impatient about getting down to business. Nonetheless I reluctantly picked up the phone (sorry Fran) and said “Hey buddy, what’s happening?”
“First off”, he said, “I need to apologize for not calling you back a month ago”. I quickly dismissed the apology. “No need. Everyone is running hard these days” (my buddy is in the early stages of starting a new financial practice). As I strained my brain to recall the reason I had reached out several weeks ago, we fell into a “catch-up” conversation.
I’ll be honest. At first I was feeling a little squeamish about spending time talking about kids hockey – a subject that can devour time like no other. However, I’ve been shown many times that there are hidden gifts in surrendering to the moment. So I decided to do just that. I squelched my impatience (not an easy task for me) and quickly found myself enjoying the conversation. After a few minutes, we transitioned to the subject of our respective businesses.
The results of this conversation were as follows:
- He asked me about how some of my content could help him build his financial practice. The conversation that followed helped him better understand what I do and how I’m different.
- I told him about a young and growing company I’m currently working with. There was a direct tie-in to his business so I made an introduction after the call.
- He suggested I contact the CEO of the business through which they run their back office to see if I could get on their conference agenda. I then reached out using my friend’s name as a connector.
- I told him about a government grant he might want to research which pays a significant portion of training costs for employees learning a new skill – which he may ultimately take advantage of.
- In the process of describing this government program, he suggested I reach out to a mutual friend and hockey parent who is building a digital marketing business. So I did. We had a long chat which could result in new business to me while utilizing this government program.
Not a bad result for an unexpected call that I reluctantly picked up…
Do You Really KNOW The People You Hang With?
I don’t know how many times I’ve come home from a “boys night out”, received the inevitable question from my wife – “What’s (insert name) doing these days?” – only to realize I have absolutely no idea. In the melee of a few drinks, many stories, lots of laughter and playful mocking (Travis, I’m not letting up on that terrible neon yellow M&M NASCAR hat), men especially don’t often go there.
But the reality is that it’s not just “nights out”. Especially if you have active kids, my guess is that you’re constantly bumping into people you know. And yet, most of us stay on the surface. Even the question “How are you?” holds very little meaning. People who have emigrated to Canada from foreign cultures often become confused by the way Canadians respond to the question. It’s simply an extended greeting. It is certainly NOT an attempt to get to know someone on a deeper level.
The Importance of Curiousity in Relationships
Time and time again, in almost every sales and leadership class I facilitate, we explore the incredibly important role curiousity plays in developing trust. Specifically, I’m talking about curiousity and fascination with other people – a desire to understand people’s unique perspectives and what defines them. I’m not suggesting you ask some random parent at a dance recital what defines them. But a good icebreaker could be “Other than these kids, what’s keeping you busy these days?” or “I never asked you what you do for a living?”. You can then allow your curiousity to pave the way for the deeper questions.
Why Are We Blind To So Many Opportunities?
- Extreme Preoccupation – The chaos of our modern world often renders us at best “not quite present” to, at worst, “completely distracted”. In this state, we severely impair the circuitry in our brains from thinking creatively and making new connections.
- We Feel Disconnected From a Sense of Purpose – The reality is that financial and time pressures tend to create a “rinse and repeat” cycle of workdays that can leave us feeling disconnected from a meaningful sense of purpose. Without this, we can miss opportunities right in front of our faces because we lack a cohesive framework to tie the opportunity into
- We Are Not Confident in Our Value – Unfortunately I’ve experienced this phenomenon in roles I was ill-suited to. When we don’t feel confident that we can truly help people or businesses achieve something they couldn’t achieve without us, we tend to back away from opportunities. Often this happens in our subconscious minds, without us knowing why.
When The Universe Speaks, Are You Listening?
Now here’s the funny thing. I bumped into the “mutual friend” I mentioned in #5 above two days ago at a hockey game. We spoke briefly about the changes in our business lives as we waited an eternity for the boys to emerge from the dressing room. The universe was speaking to me on Monday. But today, it hit me with a sledgehammer. I finally awakened to the opportunity that chance encounter held. It was a lesson, urging me to be less distracted and more open to the curious workings of this strange world. In doing so, who knows what gifts await?