Archived from the week of 7/30/18 @ The Guilde:
A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something
Do you remember that feeling you had in your early 20’s when life stretched out before you in a wide open (albeit totally confusing) plain of possibilities? It seemed like there was nothing but time to make everything happen.
And then real life begins.
We start to make choices. We say yes to certain, specific things, places and people. We check off our particular set of imagined boxes, and narrow our worlds a bit year by year. We take on epic servings of responsibility and eventually get to the point where out of sheer necessity and exhaustion, we start to say no to more and more. Life might work pretty well for us at this point. We’ve got things under control, just where we want them.
But one bummer result? We become people who forget that new opportunities hover around us all the time. Tiny ones and big ones, personal ones and professional ones, ones connected to those we are closest to and ones connected to the very strangers standing in front of and behind us in the Starbucks line. We forget that opportunity is something we create for ourselves. We forget to be lucky.
Often when we think about luck, we attribute it to people, maybe even ourselves, as being in the right place at the right time. But study after study shows that lucky people are acutely aware of their circumstances and surroundings –- they are on the lookout for luck –- and therefore see an opportunity when it presents itself.
Psychologist Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania says that if he were looking for a lucky person, “the number one ingredient that I’d select for would be optimism.” Luck is a psychological game in a sense –- a perspective you choose. Lucky people pick up on details, pay attention to their gut intuition, expect good luck, and have a positive attitude about bad luck when it strikes.
Opportunity and luck are two sides of the same coin. Opportunity-making also requires a mindset of openness and imagination, and it rarely presents itself in a straight line. It also requires a willingness to connect with people — people are the greatest givers of opportunities.
Of course, it’s an incredible privilege to be able to look at opportunity in this way. An embarrassment of riches, really. When we think of the women all over the world who truly have no opportunity and even less ability to control their own life circumstances, we see how lucky we are to be able to create opportunity for ourselves and for each other.
We stand as women at a time and place in history where we need to be the lucky ones. We need to remain excited about our ability to create new possibilities for ourselves and each other, and to imagine the opportunities that aren’t necessarily presenting themselves to us fully formed and identifiable. This is where our future lies.
In our history as partners, the first so-called opportunity we went out and “took” was in 2013. When we applied for a TEDxWomen license that Fall, we had no idea if we were up to the task. We weren’t event planners, speaker coaches, community organizers, public speakers or activists; we really had nothing in fact to alert us to this “opportunity” but our own imaginations. All we knew is that we wanted it (kind of, mostly). At the same time, we were truly terrified of it. There was some heat that drew us to it nevertheless –- the pull of something risky, bigger than ourselves, at the edge of our own possibility. It made us feel hopeful. We said yes when the license came.
The truth is, the event could have been a big, humiliating flop. We half suspected it would be. And it turns out that would have been okay, too. In hindsight, it’s possible to see that we would have eventually dusted ourselves off and rebounded. People are resilient like that. But the opposite happened -- we were rewarded when we jumped off that cliff. We learned that more often than not, when we jump, the net really does appear.
Breaking past that initial barrier was incredibly freeing. But the truth is we are still those two scared women standing out on the edge of the diving board egging each other on to jump. That’s the springboard and the push we can provide each other as women. To discover our true capabilities, we have to say yes to creating the opportunities that are lurking around every corner, real or imagined -- the opportunities to speak up more, stand for something, risk more to advance our careers, take a leadership role, maybe even run for office.
As powerhouse Writer/Producer/Director Shonda Rhimes says, “Saying yes . . .You start to feel invincible. You start to feel powerful. You start to feel a lot more in control of your life.”
“Yes to everything scary.
Yes to everything that takes me out of my comfort zone.
Yes to everything that feels like it may be crazy.
Yes to everything that feels out of character.
Yes to everything that feels goofy.
Yes to everything.
XO, Dana & Kristan