If you want to drive change, you’ll want to practice creating opportunities for others.
The result of offering an opportunity can be big or small, but sometimes the result is amazing.
Some say we learn best through stories, so I’ve included a few stories below the fold.
The stories are pictures of what creating an opportunity looks like.
You’re a 12-year-old boy sitting quietly in your 6th grade class with more than 20 other students.
Suddenly, the school principal (a stern but caring woman) stops at your open classroom door, motions for your teacher to come into the hall and talks to the teacher for a moment
When the teacher and principal reenter the classroom, they’re both looking directly at you.
The principal says, “Young man, grab your things and come with me.”
Fear grips you. “What have I done?” you think. Your mind races. Meekly, you rise, gather your belongings and follow the principal into the hall.
With all the authority of a principal ordering about a 12-year-old boy, she inquires, “What day were you born?”
You reply and she nods, satisfied with your answer.
With a crooked finger she motions for you to follow her down the hall.
As you near the other end of the hall, the principal slowly opens the door to a classroom two grades higher than the one you just left.
To the 8th grade teacher she says, “Find this boy a seat.” And with her arm she sweeps you into your new classroom, then leaves.
What just happened?
As this is a true story my friend recounted to me only days ago, I can tell you authoritatively what happened, what his principal did for him that day.
She knew he was a bright boy, capable of doing so much with his life, but only if given the proper opportunities.
She knew the school district only gave her the power to change a students grade level if the student was below 13 years old. She guessed my friend was soon approaching 13, so asking his birth date confirmed her guess and she acted immediately.
She knew he would thrive in his new 8th grade class, and she believed if she took this interest in him and his education, on this day, that she would make a difference in his life.
She was right.
People like my friend’s principal are changing lives every day. By sharing that opportunity that day, she gave him a wealth of opportunities in the future.
Not in a position to mold young lives? [Neither am I.] Maybe this story will be a better picture for you to see yourself in.
Let’s say you’re forming a new team at work, or you heard about a new team being formed.
You know a female co-worker has strengths that make her a great fit for the team.
Why not ask her to join the team?
She may not have heard of the team just because you did.
She may not see her strengths as you do.
Why not say to her, “I think you’d be great for the XYZ team. You’re great at seeing the details in the chaos of project planning. The team would be better with you on it. The team is recruiting new members until Thursday. Here’s the flier if you’re interested that lists all the details.”
What do you think? Could you share an opportunity like that with someone else? Isn’t it worth a try?