When opportunity knocks, will you be ready?
My iPhone buzzed. It was a notification that someone was contacting me through Facebook messenger. The message came with a link to a webpage with a message that read, “You should consider participating in this conference. Given your blog, you might want to submit a proposal as well.” For what reason would there be a need to submit a proposal?
What was being suggested to me was to submit a proposal to conduct an interactive workshop, be on a panel, or to instruct a movement session at the 5th Annual National Black Women Life Balance & Wellness Conference. I was honored that the woman who reached out to me thought enough of me and my message here on canwilldone.com to believe I should offer my assistance. Nothing had happened, but for reason in that moment I was nervous and pumped about the opportunity.
Reacting to Opportunity
I was extremely nervous about the prospect of running a workshop since I had never done one before, but I figured I would submit a proposal. Besides having never run a workshop before, there was another problem: the dates would not work. I already had plans to attend a wedding. Rather than be deflated by not being able to take advantage of the opportunity, like I would have done before I put MAC'D into practice, I decided to start preparing for that or any other opportunity like it.
Who knows? The opportunity may never come, but I know for sure when it does, I will be ready. Like the civil rights activist and former president of the National Urban League Whitney M. Young once said, “It's better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.”
Are you prepared for your opportunity?
How to Prepare for Your Opportunity
Use this as a guide to help you prepare for your opportunity. The steps I take to prepare for speaking opportunities are the same steps that I will use to prepare myself for that opportunity to give a workshop when it comes around again.
Use your involvement in work projects, non-profit affiliations, church ministries, fraternity and sorority (fraternal) ties, employer affinity groups and the like to take on volunteer positions. Your involvement in such programs and activities serve as a great training ground for a future opportunity. Note, too, that there are times when the work you demonstrate as a volunteer gives you exposure that creates opportunities for you.
Example: I am a member of Toastmasters which is a non-profit organization. There I give speeches, but because I do not always have an opportunity to give a speech, I use other meeting roles as an opportunity to speak.
Always be a student. If the opportunity you would like requires a skill you do not currently have or if the opportunity is something in which you have no experience, like anything you need to learn, study it. Take a course in a class, online, or offerings from Udemy and Coursera. The latter two have apps that allow you to learn offline anywhere you go. Attend a workshop or seminar. Study people or programs that are skilled at what you would like to do. Also study what not to do.
Example: I am currently taking self-paced courses to learn how to expand my speaking beyond Toastmasters. In addition, I have been collecting videos to study other speakers.
Chances are that someone you know already has experience in what you desire to do. If not, it is quite possible that someone you know knows someone with experience with what you desire to do. If either or both of those lead to dead ends, there are millions of people on LinkedIn. Someone on there is bound to be able to assist you. Join a group there and/or reach out to alumni and ask for assistance. If all else fails, use Google as a guide. There are probably bloggers blogging about what you care about.
Example: On LinkedIn I am in a group where I am learning from and getting advice from people with experience in this space. Also, my work and church networks provides opportunities for me to speak on panels and to make appeals, respectively.
Put into practice what you learned from volunteering, studying, and the information provided by your network. Be intentional about your practice by working a way to practice into your day.
Example: On the canwillDONE Facebook page, I create short videos to share life lessons I learn through my morning workouts. Writing these blog posts help create content for speeches. When speaking to people, I practice getting to the point, speaking clearly, and eliminating filler words.
Go Make Your Opportunities Happen
For many years I waited for my turn, my chance, my opportunity without getting my turn, chance, or opportunity. I learned, albeit the hard way, that opportunity waits for no one. We have to value ourselves enough to create opportunities. The best way to do that is for us to prepare for opportunities.
Do not wait for opportunities to come to you, go after them. Use the tips in this post to help you along your personal journey.
- If an opportunity you desire is not happening for you right now, build yourself up by preparing for that opportunity.
- If you have an opportunity upcoming that you are nervous about, use a comfortable environment to help prepare you.
- If you want to be ready to lead an organization, prepare by paying attention to others in a leadership capacity. Note what you like about what they do, then practice it. Also note what you do not like, then take note of what you would do differently.
You have the idea, I am sure. Now go out there and get ready for your next opportunity.