Educating, inspiring, and transforming current and future government leaders.

Don’t Wait For Opportunities to Find You

Since joining YGL, I have gotten the opportunity to meet so many smart, qualified, and dedicated government employees working hard to make an impact, grow their careers, and support their agencies’ missions. It is an honor to work alongside them and in some cases, mentor them.

When I talked about my journey through government, I have been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to rise quickly. People always ask: “What is your secret? How did you get your chance? Is it your dashing good looks?” Ok, I made up the third one up, but while I do admit that I have had some luck and great timing, I generally respond with some version of one of my favorite quotes from Sir Francis Bacon:

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”

Sir Francis Bacon, a portrait

Sir Francis Bacon, a portrait

(Sir Francis Bacon – A sharp dresser and a sharp mind)

Changing your mindset

There is a common saying in entrepreneurship that you pass around 100 million-dollar ideas everyday, you just have to be aware enough to recognize them. The best opportunities aren’t handed to you; you need to find them. The same can be said in your career.

We can often get caught up in the mindset of “this is my path,” but in doing so, lose sight of the opportunities right before our eyes. The more we open ourselves up to the unknown, the better chance we have to recognize something we couldn’t see before.

Strategies for moving forward

While talking about the theory of “making opportunities” is fun, I would rather discuss HOW we can actually change our mindsets to be more attuned to opportunities.

There are many ways to make new opportunities but there is no perfect strategy. Often times new mindsets and opportunities come from places that you never expected.

Because everyone loves lists (thanks Buzzfeed), I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite strategies from people much more successful than me on how to open yourself up to new opportunities and be more proactive in your career.  This list is by no means comprehensive and every strategy may not work for every situation, but life is unpredictable and I want you to be as prepared as possible.

  1. Find a need and fill it – There are endless opportunities to be doing things better and more efficiently through new skills, better expertise, or just simply finding time to solve a problem. Find where your team is weak and expand your role.
  2. If you want to work on a project, figure out a way to make it happen – This is where you need to get creative. Maybe you can’t support the entire project, but if you can help with a small piece of it with just your spare time, you will gain great insight, experience, and exposure to the overall project.
  3. Don’t pass up an opportunity because you don’t know how to do something – We live in the age of information. If you want to do something, learn how to do it – books, youtube, classes, etc. are right at your fingertips.
  4. Say yes to as much as possible – You never know what you’re going to learn, who you are going to meet, and what connections are going to be made. There is rarely a “perfect time” to take on a new challenge. Try to avoid that trap and instead be willing to give something a try.
  5. Always put your best foot forward – Most people think of this phrase with projects they don’t like, but we need to redefine it to also include how we interact with others. People think that opportunities come from above, but most opportunities actually come from former coworkers. Remember, everyone wants to work with people they like.
  6. Join YGL – Obviously

You don’t need to try all of these at once (although you should join YGL immediately if you aren’t a member), but these are great strategies to help get you unstuck. Give them a try and see what you think, but always remember that the opportunities are out there – you just have to be able to recognize them.

This article was written by Kevin Richman.

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