Seeing Opportunity

First, I wanted to share this link from Seth Godin: Summer 2013 Seth Godin Internship

Basically, Seth Godin is putting together a team to work on a cool idea for a couple of weeks from July 22, 2013 to August 2, 2013.  He’s even paying money for the internship.  And he doesn’t care about age, so even an old fart like myself could apply.

This is an opportunity.  This is one of those things I read about and I think–this could be a game changer.

No, it’s not writing-related.  But most of us aren’t just writers either.

Am I going to apply?  I don’t know.  If this had been three weeks ago, then “definitely yes.”  But I signed up for something else that happens at the exact same time.  And already paid some money towards it.  (Of course, that’s a sunk cost, right?  The question is which makes sense to do today.)

So, I don’t know.  We’ll see.  But for anyone this would work for, I encourage you to apply.  The opportunity to be around certain types of people or certain ways of thinking is invaluable.  And I think Seth Godin is one of those types of thinkers.  I like what he has to say on his blog and I’ve been reading Linchpin recently and it’s really been resonating with me.

(Perhaps not in the expected way.  More in the, “so that’s why I wanted to quit that job so much, because I was a linchpin in a non-linchpin environment…”  Followed by the “I so should’ve been a techie” thought.)

Anyway.  Look at it.  Think about it.  Take the risk.

Now, since we’re talking about seeing opportunity and I’ve already departed from the writing theme for the day, time to discuss a good friend of mine and this whole idea of seeing opportunity.

My friend is a corporate type.  50-something.  Always had traditional jobs.  Always followed the rules.  Excelled at following the rules, but always wanted someone to tell them what the expectations were so they could meet them.  (To be fair, this friend sometimes pushed the boundaries here or there.  But it was more a speaking their mind when asked situation than an advocating for change scenario.)

Anyway.  Due to chance and circumstance this friend found themselves unemployed.  No more bi-monthly paycheck, no health insurance, no 401(k), no office to go to every day, no requirement to put on a suit.

(This same friend protested when their office transitioned from business to business casual dress, because they didn’t feel like they were in the right mindset for work if they weren’t wearing a suit.)

Good news is the friend was able to find work as an independent contractor consulting for a company at about twice the rate they thought they could get.  And, while not forty hours a week, they were getting enough work to pay their bills.

Now, here’s where seeing opportunity comes into play.  I met this friend for lunch and they told me that they were unemployed.  Here was someone who was running their own business and making more money than most people make in a year. But because they didn’t have a corporate paycheck and benefits they thought of themselves as unemployed.

This wasn’t even someone who had decided to be a consultant and didn’t yet have a client.  They had a client.  They were making money.  But they considered themselves unemployed.

My view was that even without a client as long as they were actively hustling to find business that they were a self-employed businessperson.

But this friend just didn’t see that.  They weren’t framing their situation that way.

They then told me they were going to apply for a job that paid about half of what they’d been making at their last full-time job just so they could have a job again.  (A bad career move, by the way.  If you’re going to step down in terms of title and pay make sure it’s for a good reason like learning a new area of expertise or working for a certain type of employer.  Don’t do something like that out of fear.  Have a story to tell.)

If it was a matter of health insurance or something like that I’d understand.  But it was about thinking they were unemployed.  Rather than make $X working ten hours a week, they were willing to take a lower position and lesser pay to make $X working forty hours a week just so they could have a traditional job.

To me they weren’t seeing the opportunity they had.  Not only did they not see that they were running a lucrative business, they also didn’t see that they now had free time to pursue other interests or possibilities–personal or professional.

This is why I really don’t advocate locking yourself into one path or one option.  Stay flexible.  Keep probing your environment.  Figure out what opportunities actually exist around you.  And don’t let other’s definitions or expectations lock you into a less than optimal choice.

People will tell you what works for most people most of the time.  That doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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