When Opportunity Knocks

When an opportunity comes to you, how do you decide whether or not to pursue it? What factors should you consider? Do you take every opportunity or should you be selective? I have some guidelines that may be helpful when you have this kind of decision to make.

 Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Opportunity! Some people naturally embrace every chance that presents itself. This apparent lack of fear is astounding to more cautious souls, who may both envy it and be grateful that theirs is a more sedate nature.

But when an opportunity appears, there are some ways to make a choice that’s reasoned and intelligent, a choice that will help you make the most of an opportunity without breaking out in a cold sweat.

1. Make “Yes” your default response. When I was a student, this was my strategy. Every once in a while, I got in over my head, but in general, this improved my sightreading, grew my musical vocabulary, and provided experiences that expanded my world, musical and otherwise. Because I had such supportive parents, this strategy enabled me to be a busy freelancer before I could drive. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

By the way, you can say “yes” provisionally. A response like, “I’d love to do this, but I need to check some things. When do I need to let you know?” can buy you enough time to evaluate the opportunity.

2. Are you ready enough? Not ready, just ready ENOUGH. Or can you be ready in time? You may not know the Britten Ceremony of Carols today, but maybe you can have it learned by the rehearsal date. Write out a practice plan and see.

3. Does this fit with your goals? Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. If an opportunity doesn’t fit with your long-term goals or meet an immediate need (like income!), it may not be something for you to pursue. Learn more about setting goals in this previous post.

4. Will this lead to something, or is it a one shot deal? If an opportunity seems like a step toward your goal, it may be a good fit. If it’s a dead end, meaning that it won’t further your career, your musicianship or your budget, it may be a good idea to walk away.

5. If you say “no” now, will you get a second chance? Some opportunities seem ill-timed. You’d love to do it, but you won’t have quite enough time to prepare, or you’re too busy at the moment. Will you get another chance? Many times the answer will be yes. Another wedding or another Ceremony of Carols, will come along next year when you may be ready.

But some opportunities are “limited time only.” Take a second look and see how much you will have to stretch to make it happen. My advice: if you think you make it work, go for it. Carpe diem.

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”   –  Eleanor Roosevelt

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