We often see other people’s success and think that they started with a better opportunity than we’ve been given. Sometimes that’s true, but often we overlook the potential that is right in front of us. We tend to think that we’re getting a bad hand while others get all the good stuff. Here are three common excuses we may be familiar with: 1, at work we may think that our co-worker gets assigned better projects than we do, and dismiss that she actually got a similar bad brief, but her work turns into greatness because she’s been extra resourceful. Or 2, in a book club, our friend may stand out by having a very interesting point of view influenced by an article he read. We may not have liked the assigned book, but we could have researched new angles as well. Or 3, maybe we use a friend’s highly recommended contractor for a renovation, but instead of getting a beautiful, new bathroom, we end up not happy with the work. We forget that our friend has had more experience working with contractors than we have, and we could have asked for help in that area. Sure, sometimes our opportunities in life are not great, but they all have potential if we can figure out how to get more out of them.
In the mentioned work example, some tasks can be done twice, once by doing it as it’s been requested, the second time by breaking the rules and being ultra creative. There’s a good chance the final piece will land somewhere in between. In the book club case, brainstorming inspiring, fresh ideas can help us enhance the opportunities we receive, and a bit of extra research can bring surprising results. And for renos, asking questions and having a deep curiosity can not only help us figure out how to improve a condition, it can also lead to new levels of expertise through the power of collaboration. It’s too easy to just think that other people get better opportunities, and not put in the effort required to make what we have acquired, great. It’s not about the hand we’re dealt, it’s about how we play it.
Take action: Find value in what you do. Sometimes a task feels menial and not worth your time, but if you reframe it, you can turn it into an opportunity. Plus, these sorts of circumstances tend to have a snowball effect, in that, if you perform well consistently, the opportunities in front of you will grow more favorable.
Inspired by Paul Arden’s book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be.