Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak to the scholarship recipients at the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce scholarship breakfast. The point of the speech was this - opportunities are all around us, if we choose to see them.
I've decided to share the content here:
The Opportunity To Succeed
It is my extreme pleasure to be here with you today. Sam, Kevin, Clay, and Louis, you should be very proud of your accomplishments. As you move on to the next chapter in your growth, remember that there are opportunities all around you.
Sometimes those opportunities are cloaked as challenges and can be hard to see. And yet, they are indeed, opportunities, chances to take stock of who you are, where you are, and where it is you would like to go.
You may not always know where it is you want to go, but remember, you are always in control of figuring that out and making that decision. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply be aware; aware of the signs around you. Opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. By simply being open to opportunities, you create a platform for them to appear.
Often times throughout our lives we are presented with what other people think we should be doing; who other people think we should be. And while they are well-meaning and absolutely have our best interests in mind, they aren’t necessarily right.
We live our best life when we live it our way. When we follow the path that is right for us. And at the end of the day, we are the only person who can know that for ourselves.
When I went to college I had a belief that I wanted to be a particular thing, a special education teacher, and so I headed off with that idea in mind. As I experienced my college years, I realized that teaching was not for me. I explored different avenues and ended up in a very different place. I ended up with a Bachelor of Science degree in social science. After college I found a job as a supervisor. Over the years I worked for people, ran companies, and sold products.
It was the leadership position as director of operations that brought me to Cleveland. And it was here that I met my husband, and now raise my family. Imagine how different things might be if I had chosen a different path.
From there I went into sales. Once again, an opportunity presented itself that made sense at the time. A year earlier it would not have been a choice I would have made.
Remember I said that sometimes opportunities are cloaked as challenges? Working full time as a sales person while raising two young children was a challenge. Add to that a life changing occurrence and I found myself at a crossroad. So, when I was 45 years old – yep, that’s right, 45 – I made a complete shift. I decided for a number of reasons that it was time for me to go down a different road; to start my own company. I was leaving the security of a full-time job with salary and commission. I was walking away from years of building a clientele and reputation in the industry. And yet, I knew that it was time. I had information coming to me from different directions that all pointed to the same thing. By being open to the possibilities, and paying attention to the signs, I found my next chapter.
And when my husband was a little nervous about the shift, I said two things to him that I’d like to share with you today.
The first was – we have to assume I’m going to be successful.
I offer to you that in anything you aspire to do, assume you’re going to be successful at the outset. My father used to tell me when I was growing up that I could be anyone I wanted to be; do anything I wanted to do, as long as I was willing to do the work. He didn’t say, except that you’re a girl, or only if you do this or that as well. So, I always assumed I’d be successful as long as I was willing to do the work to be successful.
The second thing I said to my husband was that this wasn’t the last decision I ever had to make.
It never really is the last decision. If you head down a road and discover that it really isn’t where you want to go, you have the opportunity to make a change.
The key is being truthful with yourself, paying attention to where you are and how you are feeling, and asking yourself – is this right? If it isn’t, make a different decision. YOU have the power to make the decisions that are right for you, at any time in your life, at any age, in any situation.
Don’t fear change, failure or success. They are all valuable if appreciated for what they are.
Change happens constantly. Respect it, acknowledge when you’ve changed and therefore may need to shift. Failure isn’t negative if you learn something from an experience that doesn’t quite work out. Failure is simply discovering what doesn’t work. It helps you gain clarity around what does work.
And success is merely being where you are meant to be at that moment, doing what you are meant to do at that moment, contributing, learning, sharing and giving. Leaving the world a better place than how you found it.
In the months and years ahead you will be confronted with many opportunities. Some of them will be hard to see and may show up as challenges. My wish for you is that you see them, embrace them, and don’t fear them. They truly are opportunities to succeed.
Copyright© 2011 Seize This Day Coaching