Why wait for opportunities when you can create them?

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”

Milton Berle

When Sonia McDonald found herself alone as a single-mum in China, she had been working in a senior HR role which she loved. She then made the difficult decision to come home to Australia and to work remotely in the same role, however, that didn’t work out.

McDonald then struggled to find flexible work that suited her needs and experience. In her podcast interview on The Mentor List, she described how, when the opportunity came up to become a leadership development consultant, she exaggerated her experience to get the role. She soon found she had a passion for coaching others to become better leaders and set about learning everything she could on the subject.

In her desire to share her knowledge as widely as possible, McDonald started a blog called Leadership HQ, which opened up many more opportunities she hadn’t foreseen. One of these was building her blog into a fully-fledged business, complete with leadership training courses, resources and events. She has even self-published three books on leadership.

None of these opportunities would have come her way if McDonald hadn’t been open to them.

Ben Williamson and Rhys Davis - Co-founders, Dealpad

Ben Williamson and Rhys Davis - Co-founders, Dealpad

Build your own doors

Many of us find ourselves in situations that force us to change direction at different points in our life. Sometimes, that can happen quite suddenly — after losing a job, for example, or dealing with a major health issue. At those times, it may seem like we really don’t have much choice in the paths we take from there. Yet, that is rarely the case.

As Ian Christie stated in the article Create Your Own Opportunities on the Monster website:

“Here is one of those basic laws of life: There will always be opportunities for those who recognize and pursue them.”

Opportunities can be found in many areas. For example, you might come across them when:

  • Seeking work

  • Asking for a promotion

  • Starting your own business

  • Seeking funding for a project

  • Learning a new skill

  • Connecting with other people with common interests

  • Developing a new product or service

To discover the opportunities available to you, you need to look for them everywhere. You could be surrounded by amazing options, but, if you believe there is nothing out there for you, you simply won’t see them.

Start by studying trends in your industry, community and society. What needs are not being met? What are others doing? Could their ideas be adapted to meet your needs?

Know what you want

Once you start looking for opportunities, they start to present themselves. Sometimes in obscure places and sometimes right under your nose. After a while, you can have so many possibilities surrounding you that it can be overwhelming and you end up confused about which path to take.

To help you decide, you need to know what it is that you are looking for and have a plan to help you achieve it. As McDonald said in her interview:

 “Self-awareness is the key. Understanding who you are, what’s important to you. What your values are. I really wish I’d got that advice a lot sooner as that would have made a big difference to me”.

Have courage and resilience

It’s not enough to recognise the opportunities that interest you, though, you actually need to reach out and grab them. Yes, this can be extremely scary, but it can also be very, very rewarding. Try not to worry too much about making mistakes, instead, be grateful for them because you can learn a lot from them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, either. Whatever situation you find yourself in, there will nearly always be someone around who can help you. This might be a mentor, a financial advisor, a business coach or a supportive friend or family member.

Getting out there and creating your own opportunities in life puts you in a very special category. You’ll be one of the people who can say “I did that” instead of “I wish I did that”.

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Sonia McDonald calls herself “The Accidental Entrepreneur” because her journey to leadership was one that she never expected to take. From working in HR in Australia and China to founding her company, Leadership HQ, she has learned to seize the opportunities around her and make them work for her.

McDonald is now consulting, coaching and speaking around the globe on leadership, neuroscience and building great organisations. With three books now in publication and more to come, McDonald is changing the face of leadership today. Hear more of her story and tips for taking charge of your life in her podcast interview on The Mentor List. You’re sure to be inspired.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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