I am open to new opportunities. I am seeking a new opportunity. These are similar thoughts, and the passive and active differences have something to do with the degree of urgency. A question for you: If you too are open, or are seeking, have you let your thoughts be known? Not necessarily as a public statement, but privately, as an admission to yourself?
“I am open to new opportunities”: What is lacking with what you have now?
“I am seeking a new opportunity”: What’s the minimum that will satisfy you? What do you have to offer, that will satisfy them, the opportunity holders?
Let’s explore the depth off this dock. You can always step back to shore, if you don’t trust that your keel will clear the bottom.
Picture this. Someone’s carrying a bunch of groceries from her car to her home, and in the middle of handling her keys, and the apartment door, and five bags, she drops a carton of eggs. Let me ask you, did it matter how much care those eggs received prior?
The woman could kneel at the broken mess and say, “Oh I shouldn’t have carried so many bags at once!” or “Why didn’t I just carry the eggs and open the door? And come back for everything else a minute later?” She could say all that, and it wouldn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter how carefully she’d chosen the eggs in the market, had checked their date, and opened the carton to examine for cracks in the shells. All the care, intentions and actions meant nothing if the eggs were dropped.
Before we continue, let me ask you two questions that will help us a bit further along. Which of the following yes/no questions indicates the most value to you? One is quite broad, the other is specific. First statement: Are you open to a new opportunity? Second statement: I have an extra postage stamp; would you take it for free?
I ask that you choose one. Pick the question that you rate as being worth the most to you. Just park your answer for now, we’ll re-visit it later.
All right, picture this. A charitable non-profit organization had sent a mailer to all shareholders and stakeholders, thanking several donors–all of them truly deserving thanks. By this action, what has the board communicated to the donors that were left off the list?
The implied message to the un-acknowledged donors can be perceived in a few ways. Here’s one: “You haven’t been as generous as those who made the list.” Or perhaps it’s this: “We haven’t given much thought about how your being left off the list may affect your continued philanthropy with us.” Let’s also consider the possibility that the charity had understood that the donors who were left off the thank you list were in fact not interested in public recognition and would not be bothered by the list at all.
The non-profit had better be careful with their eggs. The understanding can’t be an assumption. It doesn’t matter the care the charity had afforded to the off-list donors in the past. It doesn’t matter the plans the charity and those donors had made together, including the donor’s generosity and the good that was in the works for the community. The charity doesn’t want to be in the position of kneeling at their mess on the floor, thinking how absolutely stupid they were, in one thoughtless moment.
Remember how we talked about the two yes or no questions? Do you have your answer about which you value most? Do you think it’s a fifty-eight cent choice?
Chances are, of course you’re open to a new opportunity. It would have to be the one just right for you– your choice. In fact, I’d bet that if most people considered the two questions, they’d acknowledge that the right opportunity taken on their own initiative would be worth more than mailing an envelope.
What do you think would happen if we put the question to the man on the street? I would never want to try to ask him. Why do I say this? Because while uttering the first offer, I would feel as if I was belittling myself–and the other person, too. I would be shrinking as I spoke, losing six inches per word, because it would seem to me, and to him, that I was trying to sucker him into something he didn’t want or need.
This is because the question must come from within ourselves. If the offer of “Are you open to an opportunity” comes from someone else, even from a loved one in a private setting, it would take us by surprise. We would be flustered, right? It would show our vulnerability, an implied mismanagement of ourselves. And no one wants that presumptive lack of planning brought to light, unless it’s our finger on the light switch.
We want to be the one to decide if it’s time for a new direction. And then we’d arrange a chat with our loved one, and say something like “Hey, I want to tell you. I’m open to a new opportunity. Let me tell you what I have in mind.” And maybe they could help you with it.
The awkwardness of this coming from someone else: If your boss said, “Are you open to a new opportunity?” you could see this as a way to a promotion, or new responsibilities that could lead to valuable skills. You might say “Yes!” and she could then say, “Well then I think you should pursue it.” Ouch. No, um, I’d like to stay. If that’s okay?
The confidence of this coming from yourself: If you ask for a meeting with your boss, and during the appropriate time you told her, “I would like to learn more about certain aspects of the job, that would help me with my speed and accuracy. Can I tell you about it?” You might find that your boss’s answer could only help you get more solid in your work. And then lead to valuable skills, and responsibilities, and a promotion. See how the shift could work?
What does the egg-dropping story, and the charity donor story have to do with personal opportunities, aside from demonstration analysis?
If the egg-drop woman is open to new opportunities, she can plan for four new meals this week. Instead of her tried-and-true meatloaf, meatballs, scrambled eggs, and an egg-and-cheese sandwich, she’ll have to work on something else. Maybe it’s a new soup recipe. Maybe it’s beef prepared a different way than she’s always known to do it. Or maybe she picks up the phone and calls four different pals and incorporates friends into her mealtimes. This week. And maybe that could be the start of a new tradition?
The non-profit charity had better be careful with their bulletins. They can’t assume donors don’t want to be recognized, especially when said donors are the type of rich people who enjoy helping out–and expect to be known to be helping out. Even if they prefer to be listed as Anonymous. Believe it, they will be looking for their newsletter nod, under the As. You don’t want those donors to Be Seeking A New Opportunity… to donate elsewhere!