Opportunity: See it! Seek it! Seize it!

At my house, sometimes to the chagrin of my youngest daughter, especially during the winter months of the school year, we call the alarm clock the opportunity clock. When it goes off for the day, opportunity knocks.

I think the opportunity formula is simple. See the opportunity. Seek the opportunity. Seize the opportunity.

See it! Seek it! Seize it!

See the opportunity is the identification phase.   How does it start?  It begins with reflection, conversation and direction.  Take time to reflect on what opportunities you see in your firm or business. Really reflect and dig deep. Then, once you have seriously thought about the opportunity you have identified, get outside perspective. Ask people inside and outside your organization whom you trust what they think about what you’ve put your finger on.  Listen to their comments and advice. Ask them for direction. This is a kind of “what would you do in my shoes” moment. From there, nail down some goals and hold yourself accountable.

Once you see the opportunity, seek it with all you’ve got. This is the action phase. More than anything else, it requires pursuit and patience. Every opportunity worth waiting for requires patience. One of the constant themes in successful business careers is the person achieving his or her goals stayed resilient in their pursuit and kept on moving forward slowly but surely. The bottom line is to keep your nose to the grindstone as you work and pursue your opportunity with stamina. Don’t give up hope. Stay focused. Remember what you reflected on and keep your chin up and keep looking ahead.

So see the opportunity and then seek what you see. The next step is the breakthrough phase. Lots of attributes are needed here. Two in particular stand out  — leadership and risk taking.

Leadership and risk taking are complementary traits. Leaders see resistance and are determined to fight through the inertia they face. Risk taking is reward receiving. It means getting outside your comfort zone to stretch and grow.  Take risk to receive rewards. When you do, you will grow as a leader and you will seize the opportunity.

What happens if you don’t seize it the first time?  Keep trying.

Last week while on a flight to Washington D.C., I sat next to a sergeant in the Marine Corps. He did three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  We struck up a meaningful conversation.

Before we landed, he reached into his wallet and said, “I want to give you this, sir, before we land.”

He gave me a small, worn card.

“I have had this with me for all my tours. I want you to have it now, sir.”

Printed on the card is the Marine’s prayer. As you would expect, this prayer is moving, very powerful. Two sentences in the middle of the prayer remind us never to stop seizing:

“If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith. If I shoud miss the mark, give me courage to try again.”

See it! Seek it!  Seize it!

Opportunity knocks. The opportunity clock sounds.