When there's a knock on the door, is it an opportunity or an interruption?
We're all faced with this question on a frequent basis. Perhaps you received a new prospect call, had a new project opportunity cross your plate, heard from a recruiter about a job opportunity, or are asked to sit on a board or volunteer.
All of these things can be seen as either an opportunity or an interruption based on your goals and current activities.
Time will tell if a knock on your door was an opportunity or interruption. I've found the following story illustrates this point best.
In olden days, a wife died in childbirth. Fifteen years later, the dad and orphan son now spend all of their days together, barely making ends meet by farming.
One day, across the fence, the dad's neighbor laments to the single father: “How sad for your son to grow up all alone." The dad replied, "Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing...only time will tell."
Soon, a solitary horse appeared, and immediately befriended the boy. The neighbor said, “What a wonderful playmate for your son. The horse helps him with the chores, and they are fast friends. Isn't this a terrific thing?” The dad replied, again, "Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing...only time will tell."
Several months later, while riding the horse, a snake startled the horse, throwing the boy off and fracturing his leg. The neighbor said, “How tragic. Now your boy will be a cripple the rest of his life." And, as you now expect, the dad replied, “Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing...only time will tell."
That next spring, the King's army was canvassing the country, rounding up all of the able-bodied men to go off to war. The neighbor said, “How fortunate that your boy wasn't selected due to his bad leg." And, one more time, the Dad sang his refrain.
The moral of this tale is simple: We don't always know – in the moment – just exactly how to put current events in context.
Looking back, as they say, gives you 20-20 vision.
Decisions in real-time
We rarely have the luxury of time. The pace of today's world mandates we make quick decisions.
Various sources report the average person makes between 3,000 and 15,000 “decisions” each day. Some are mundane (where to sit in the restaurant). Some are essential.
The challenge for all of us is to put each decision in the context of the myriad of other options and responsibilities we face each day.
The world goes on, and we all must find ways to determine if the next knock is an interruption or an opportunity.