Opportunity Is in the Eye of the Beholder

When I think of opportunity, I think of an old story I’ve heard several times. It goes something like this:

Many years ago, two salesmen were sent by a shoe manufacturer to another continent to investigate and report back on market potential.

The first salesman reported back, “There is no potential here — nobody wears shoes.”

The second salesman reported back, “There is massive potential here — nobody wears shoes.”

This is a perfect example of seeing things in two very different ways the glass is either half full or the glass is half empty. When you’re seeing the glass as only “half empty,” you’re missing opportunities. And there are always opportunities no matter how large or small to make a situation better, more effective, or more impactful.

Opportunity is defined as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. As a project manager and performance consultant, I’m always analyzing everything I see with my “performance-improvement” eye because I know there’s ALWAYS an opportunity to be had…and it doesn’t have to be complex. Finding an opportunity can be as simple as hearing someone make a passing comment about a problematic task.

You’d be surprised at how many opportunities are out there. It’s all about keeping your eyes open and listening to what your client is actually saying, seeing the “opportunity,” and following up with thoughtful and creative options that will help solve the problem. I’ve never come across someone who turned me away because I offered them a solution that helped them.

So, I’d like to know, what opportunity did you see when nobody else did?

2 Responses

  1. Tim Aulph

    Hi Elizabeth; great blog post! I’ve had plenty of opportunities that I have taken advantage of (one of which you gave me; thank you!) and others I missed out on. More recently though, I try to look for opportunities to help people. Everyone wins! :)

  2. Elizabeth Gardiner

    Hi Tim,
    It’s great to hear from you. I really like your philosophy where you look for opportunities to help others; it really is a situation where everyone wins!

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