One of the ways to live life is to consciously remind yourself that opportunities will not book appointments before they come and when they come, they may not look like the visitors you want to see. If opportunities were properly dressed everyone will recognize them so you need hindsight, insight and more foresight to recognize the fact that what is in front of you is an opportunity and not disaster.
Many of us have dreams but the bitter truth is that we honestly do not recognize the opportunities that were meant to birth those dreams so there are times when we all have walked past the opportunities we were looking for. Opportunities are very rude.
Just like that rude young man or the saucy young lady you would have sent out of your office or house, I hope you have not sent opportunities away like that. Some people ignorantly send opportunities away in the name of setting their priorities right but a closer look reveals that they did not really set their priorities right. What they did was to set their priorities upside down by sending Mr. Rude Opportunity away.
I remember a time in my secondary school days when I was expecting the results of promotional exams like every other person but what I got was an advice to repeat the class. We all probably think that we have very strict parents but I can start a debate at this time that my parents were stricter. I didn’t know what to expect but I obvious didn’t contemplate suicide though I wished I could disappear. Let’s leave the story for my biography but I didn’t enjoy that holiday and the Christmas that followed because I was returning to school to seat in the same class with my juniors.
The irony of the situation was that just as I was beginning to settle down in class the class, the class needed to appoint leaders and I was appointed as one of the captains of the class. Here was a class where more than 70 percent of those seating in it were retaking the class so I thought, ‘well you are now a captain over repeaters. A captain of the so-called ‘dullest.’’ Going by the visible situation that was true but going by the way Mr. Rude Opportunity behaves that was not true. That year became my best year in school because that was the year that I improved my speaking and writing skills so much. It gave me the opportunity to build rapport with my teachers and build confidence in myself. By the time I bouncing back fully I was already the Senior Prefect of the school. Becoming the Senior Prefect of the school was my dream as a first year student but it looked as if the hope slipped into the tunnel. There was no light in that tunnel until I had gone through that phase where the thick darkness was almost touchable. The hope was rekindled after I had failed. When I reminisce those days I can smile and say thank God I failed that session because it was the session that brought to limelight the leadership potentials in me and I bounced back academically. At least I got the award for the best Literature-in-English student before I graduated.
Every new phase of my life in one way or the other has been ushered in with what looks more like a rude interruption of my plan. My success in life so far can be referred to as opportunities that first interrupted my life disguised as failures.
If the only challenge is that opportunities will not book appointments before they come that would have been okay because you sometimes accommodate the people you were not expecting but it does not just show up without notice, it will put you off balance if you are not careful. When I listen to the stories of some young people the only thing I can deduce is that they did not know when Mr. Rude Opportunity came to their house or office. He obviously came disguised like the masked Nigerian Musician whose real identity is not known but adopts “Lagbaja” as stage name. Interestingly this man has been to several places without masks and has spoken with the people who know his works but don’t know his face or any other thing that can reveal his true identity.
Many people know what opportunities can do for them but they are sincerely ignorant about the characteristics of opportunities. There are people living inside opportunities and they are looking for it. There are people looking for opportunities and they seat on it on daily basis. There are people looking for opportunities and it just follows them around. I remember visiting a friend of mine who was, at the time we were both undergraduates, a graphic designer because I wanted to publish a magazine. My “planned mission” was to get the quotation for a publication but when I got there I realized that there was the “original mission” as presented by Mr. Rude Opportunity. I remember it was 9pm on a Sunday evening and examinations were starting the following day. I was also supposed to be preparing for two papers so those papers who have preoccupied my time.
The student union president of Olabisi Onabanjo at the time who was referred to as ‘AWO’ just said, ‘tell this guy about it. He does stuffs like this.’ In that moment I didn’t know what was presenting itself to me. All that mattered at the moment was that the group of young men who were there were looking for a few people who would represent the university in the Nigeria International Model United Nations’ Conference held annually at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. They wanted me to write an essay and it must be submitted by 12 noon on Monday. My first paper was scheduled for 9am to 12pm and my second paper was scheduled for 3pm to 6pm and now I have to produce an essay which must be submitted in an interview at 12noon.
As I stepped out of my friend’s house I thought about nothing else but the essay till I got to my residence on campus. I needed to set my priorities right. The bill board in my head had a sign like, ‘Two papers tomorrow! They are not elective courses! One opportunity here for you!’ Before my fears could get hold of my reasoning I had taken a decision. As far as I was concerned the exams and the opportunities were important so I settled down immediately to start writing the essay.
There was a twist the following morning after deciding that the exams and the essay were important to me. I took to my essay to a typist before going for the first paper so that the essay would have been typed by the time I was done with the paper and I could confidently walk into the interview room with my essay. I could barely think about another thing during my paper. I just wanted the examiners to come for their script as soon as possible. I probably was the happiest student when they eventually started collecting the papers. I dashed off to the typist’s office for my essay but I got ear-itching news rather than my essay. The typist had not typed my essay when it was already a few minutes past 12noon. I could take consolation in the fact that they were fast at typing so they started looking for the essay and then there was another news. The typist couldn’t find my essay. I could have raged and just go back to the main campus for my second paper. If I had done that I probably would not have been able to concentrate on that paper but I decided to try the interview without my essay.
Amazingly I was allowed to do the interview without my essay and the panelists never asked for it. That was how I was selected to represent the university but I would have narrowly missed that opportunity. Today as I write I have had the opportunity to represent the university three times and the last time I did I was the secretary General of the Nigeria International Model United Nations’ Conference.
I went to a friend’s place with a plan in mind but Mr. Rude Opportunity was waiting to interrupt my plan. If I had not allowed him to interrupt my plan I would still be struggling with some of my personal projects right now. The last time I spoke at the Model United Nations’ Conference I shared the platform with the Japanese and Botswanian ambassadors to Nigeria. There are other leverages I have enjoyed that I will not talk about because the message is not supposed to focus on me. I only want to draw lessons from telling you personal stories.
Another person in my shoes who, by divine orchestration, needs the same leverages that these conferences have provided would have chosen just the examination and the person would have been right going by logical reasoning to do that. The most important lesson here is that opportunities force you to go beyond logical reasoning and if you choose to stay within the confines of logical reasoning you will never get what Mr. Rude Opportunity has to offer you.
December 2008 was another time when I was visited by Mr. Rude Opportunity. He came to my house without an appointment and entered my living room without knocking. He was right there beside me in front of the 21 inch size television as I pressed the power button. For the first few minutes I didn’t know I was watching a programme that would eventually change my life but I was able to switch because I recognized the whispers of Mr. Rude Opportunity. I heard him whispering into my ears, ‘go and talk to that lady about your book and I followed all the instructions. Again I would say let’s leave the details for my biography but as the time I decided to write this for you I had done 50 presentations on television week after week without paying a dime. There were times when I had a presentation in a week and there were times when I had two or three presentations in a week. If I did not recognize the whispers of Mr. Rude Opportunity I would have been looking at how much it would cost to be on television for 50 presentations but he was there telling me but to do. When I started out with the presentations there were a few voices that spoke against what Mr. Rude Opportunity told me to do. There were times when I walked for two hours to the studio to make a ten minute presentation that Mr. Rude Opportunity told me to do. It didn’t sound reasonable but I learnt my lessons.
Lessons from leveraging opportunities
1.) Opportunities show up in the least circumstances and are only visible to those who do not just “look” but make deliberate efforts to “see.”
2.) Opportunities will stand outside the spheres of your logical reasoning and will beckon you to step out but will leave you to relish your mediocrity if you are not willing to.
3.) Opportunities whisper so that only those who have trained their ears can hear what Opportunities have to say.
4.) If you always want to verify what Opportunities tell you with people you may never follow what opportunities say because in the world of opportunities logical things are presented in illogical manners. There are certain things Mr. Rude Opportunity will tell you that must not be shared with anyone.
5.) Mr. Rude Opportunity will guarantee a safe trip but will not guarantee a smooth trip so you must be preparing for a serious business and not a roller coaster ride.