Opportunities often occur when we least expect them to, and sometimes they are things that we’ve dreamed of happening but had all but given up hope on. The key to being able to take advantage of these opportunities when they appear is simple preparation. We need to ensure that if the opportunity ever happens, we are ready for the challenge and can step in to move forward. This pretty much extends throughout our personal lives as well as our professional lives. We’ve all experienced opportunities that we have let pass by because it wasn’t the right time, or we weren’t prepared to the point where we were comfortable taking the leap. For most of my life I’ve had seeing Big Horn Sheep in the wild on my bucket list. When I did it was when I least expected to. We were on our way back from Devil’s Tower in Wyoming to our hotel in Custer, SD and I had put my camera on the dashboard of the car before we left, just in case. We rounded a curve close to the Jewel Cave National Monument on 16A when we came across a herd of about 20, with lambs, right beside the road.
Preparation for an event, even when it isn’t expected, makes the difference. If I had left my camera in my backpack in the trunk, I wouldn’t have been able to document my bucket list moment into my person digital history, which I would have sorely regretted. For me the experience was an awe inspiring moment, which I would have cherished with or without the photographic documentation, but being able to take the photos made it that much better. That was made possible simply by making sure before we started back to our home base that the camera was available in case a photographic opportunity presented itself en route. So too we must ensure that we are prepared professionally for any opportunities that might present themselves, that we aspire to or always wanted to do but didn’t have the chance for.
In terms of preparation there are many things to consider, but they basically boil down to having the right equipment and the musical skills, and ability, to take advantage of opportunities. Of the two often having the right equipment is not the prime barrier. Equipment wise, there’s always a legal way to accommodate the need one way or another. The one that most frequently rears its head is a lack of musical preparation in terms of skills and abilities. When we start out we are filled with hopes and dreams, and since we’re young when we start we often don’t view anything as impossible. We work at our skills and push as hard as we can to succeed. As we age and the years go by, as well as opportunities, we tend to slow down and often don’t put in as much time as we should, or we find other distractions in our lives that pull our focus away. Then an opportunity shows up and we find ourselves thinking “ten years ago I would have been all over that, but I don’t think I can pull it off now.” We’ve let our skills and abilities slip to the point where the dreams are shelved.
We all change as we age. What is important to us at 50 is often not the same as it was when we were 25. This is one of the simple realities of life, but we still have room for passion, goals and hopes. If we no longer really want the opportunity that presents itself, then that’s perfectly fine, but if the opportunity is still something that we strongly desire and still pine for, and we cannot move on it because we’ve let ourselves slip, then it’s a very sad thing. Which also brings us to the other end of the stick. Most frequently opportunities happen because people make them happen. We set the stage for them as opposed to sitting back and waiting for them to come our way. If I never went to where Big Horn Sheep lived and sat home waiting for them to come to me in the Chicago suburbs, then my opportunity to see them would be non-existent. I had to do what was necessary to make the opportunity eventually present itself.
Opportunities happen most frequently when we make the moves to ensure that they can present themselves. We do this musically through tons of preparation, networking, performing and more networking and preparation. We go where the opportunities exist and then do our best to keep our ears to the ground and our feet and hands moving. Some start making excuses as they get older, stating that it is a younger person’s game, but the reality is that it’s everyone’s game. When we start setting limitations that deny access to our dreams we do just that, we limit ourselves and our abilities to continue dreaming. We limit our abilities to sink our teeth into our lives and what matters to us most. Remember, preparation is the key, and most of all, if the opportunity doesn’t appear, make your own opportunities!