Opportunity only knocks once. We’ve all heard this admonition, and I would agree that some opportunities do only come around as a limited, one-time offer. But we were never told that only one opportunity would knock. Opportunities beat on our proverbial doors literally every day. It is up to us to figure out which ones are advantageous and which we should let pass by.
I have been called an eternal optimist. That’s fair. From a secular viewpoint, it would seem that way. (From my Christian viewpoint, it’s an acknowledgement that God is in control.) I get up each morning, excited to see what will happen that day. Each evening, I review and evaluate the opportunities I took, the ones I rejected, and the ones I missed, deciding whether or not to do something about those the next day. Sometimes I accidentally access an opportunity, like this week when my email to the parents at our school inadvertently got sent to the education writer at the local newspaper. Before I knew it, I was being interviewed for a news article on our inclement weather policy. The next day’s article was defense for having school on a snowy day from our town’s gigantic public school district and little old Lawton Academy! Hey… it’s publicity!
As my daughter finishes her internship and is beginning to interview for jobs, our conversations tend to center around opportunity. Will she get the opportunity to do that for which she has been trained? What if two opportunities present themselves at the same time? What if no opportunities present themselves?! I remind her that my childhood dream was to teach high school music, and I am doing that now… but only after fifteen years in elementary education. Her father finished his childhood dream career – the Army – and had to start over. Two years of humbling insurance salesman work completed the transition from colonel to civilian so that he could become the teacher he is today. Sometimes opportunities are like ladders… steps leading to the jackpot opportunity you desire.
If we teach our kids that opportunity only knocks once, are we not robbing them of a lifetime of experiences? It is our job as adults to teach the kids in our lives to seek opportunities daily… to weigh them and discern which are the best opportunities. And most importantly, we need to teach them how to have the courage to seize great opportunities. Gifted kids especially will avoid new opportunities if the chance for failure seems too great. Sometimes a nudge from an adult is needed. Here at the school we require that the students try new things. We assure them that they will fail sometimes, but this is a safe place to fail. You get up, dust yourself off, and say, “At least I tried!” Then you move on.
Life doesn’t end when we fail, just as it isn’t ruined if we miss an opportunity. Sure, you missed that one’s knock. But listen! There are hundreds of other doors, all with their own knockers. You need only answer.