We may look and struggle to find what we are looking for, saying to ourselves “it is out there, somewhere.” We keep searching “out there” thinking, it will come with my next job application, that new date or Lotto ticket.
What I have found that big opportunity is very often “right under our nose”, so close we don't see it.
Here's an example.
Joy came to see me. She was depressed having been laid off work from her telecom employer where she had been for the past twenty years. It looked as though she had given up on life. Her shoulders were down, her eyes had a I'm-not-here look and her voice was flat.
She was single and for twenty years had been an international telephone operator. Now the only work she could find to use her work skills was attending the phone desk from 11 pm to 7 am at the Hotel Intercontinental.
Almost in tears, she told me what she would be paid would not be enough to feed herself, feed her cat and pay her rent.
“It's impossible” said in the same tone one hears when someone says that someone has died.
My heart went out to her.
To help her find what she felt some passion for, even a little, I asked her to list down all her life and work experiences and skills and personal qualities, then to tick what gave her the greatest sense of fulfillment.
She gave just two ticks. One for making dried flower arrangements. The other for painting plates.
“Which of these gives you the greatest joy?”
After what seemed like twenty minutes, she said so softly I could barely hear, “the flower arrangements.”
“Go home and make and bring me a basket full.”
The following morning she was back with a large flat basket brimming over with beautiful flower arrangements.
What immediately struck me was here was a different woman. She stood tall and her eyes shone. This lady had come alive.
“Take them to the local shops and sell them to the shop that offers you the most.”
She stepped out the door quietly confident and, in less than an hour, she was back and gleefully showed me how much money she had received. And this was a person who had never sold anything in her life.
Quickly I calculated she was able to earn, after costs, about three times more per hour making her flower arrangements than from working at the hotel.
I suggested she park her car on the street, put a cover on it and turn her garage into her work room.
The following day she was making flower arrangements full time. Work blossomed. She employed her neighbour. Studied business management at night class.
When we last met she was looking divine. Slim, confident, beautifully dressed, had purchased her dream home, owned three florist shops and said she and her husband were leaving for a holiday overseas.