Opportunity: We can choose to call a situation a problem, a challenge or an opportunity. The more we move toward opportunity as the meaning, the more enthusiastic we will approach it as having positive possibilities.
Some years ago, a young man applied for a very prestigious job. He went through a rigorous series of interviews and was told that he was one of two finalist candidates for the position. The final interview was set. It was to be held in one week.
The man was very excited and prepared himself very well for the upcoming meeting. He reviewed material that he believed would be discussed, briefed himself on interview techniques and also decided to buy a beautiful new suit for the situation. He was very confident and optimistic.
On the day of the interview, he was calm and focused. The meeting was to take place in a part of the city he was unfamiliar with and so he decided to take a taxi cab. The ride was pleasant and he enjoyed an animated conversation with the driver. He arrived just outside the building where the meeting was to take place fifteen minutes before the scheduled time.
He paid the driver, thanked him for the ride and began to walk the short distance to the stairs that led up to the doorway of the building. As he strode confidently, a small delivery truck came up the street, hit a pothole, veered toward the curb and went through a puddle of muddy standing water. The splash soaked the man’s slacks and shirt and spattered mud on his new tie and glasses.
As he wiped his glasses and looked at his slacks, shirt and tie, he said to himself, “Good, this will be of help to me.”
He proceeded up the steps, entered the building, identified himself to a receptionist who stared at his soaked and muddied attire and asked her where he could find a washroom. She pointed him in the right direction and he proceeded there. In the washroom, he cleaned and dried himself as best he could and then sat down in the waiting room. His suit, shirt and tie were still clearly wet.
Moments later, he was invited into a conference room in which for one hour, he was peppered with questions by the President of the company and by a recruitment consultant. From the minute he had walked in, both of them had noted his wet clothing and wondered what had happened.
Halfway through the interview, the President decided to stop wondering and ask the question. The man calmly described what had occurred and let them know just how minor an inconvenience it was to him. In fact, the man described the surprise splashing as an opportunity to cut problems down to size, rethink them as challenges and then convert them into opportunities to grow and learn.
The interview went well and the President said that he would make a decision within 48 hours; he had one more candidate to meet. Two days later, the President called and offered the young man the position; he immediately accepted.
When the President was asked what the reasons were for choosing the young man, he said, “Both the finalists were very capable and knowledgeable. Both did very well in the interview. The thing that tipped my decision in the young man’s favour was the way he handled what for most people would be a last moment adversity. This position is going to be very demanding and there will be many situations that will require agility and dexterity to deal with fast-moving, unexpected eventualities. He really showed me, in real time, his ability to use thinking skills to recover from imbalance, to turn a problem into an opportunity and to maintain his Momentum.”