You know those moments when you are overlooked for someone else who has more ability than you? It isn’t the best feeling in the world, but you can live with that. What’s worse? The moments that you you’ve been overlooked for someone else who may have less talent than you, or isn’t as committed as you, or truthfully, is plain worse than you are.
You may have been overlooked for a promotion, for the opportunity you were waiting for, or rejected for someone else in a relationship were you were clearly the upgrade.
I don’t know what it could have been for you that made you feel second-class but you have two choices: A) You can get bitter. OR B) You can get better.
I didn’t get much playing time on my High School soccer team. As a utility player I got my minutes in small batches, like when a player got hurt, or someone needed a breather. I was always one of the first ones on offense to come off the bench in those situations. In those moments I felt like I could take advantage of my time on the field and showcase my talent. Those few minutes were precious to me and I would have to quickly find the rhythm of the game in process and figure out a way to contribute.
Playing time was scarce on our team. Our coach didn’t believe in making a lot of substitutions. He felt that it disrupted the flow of the team and didn’t like to risk the adjustment period a team would have to make on the fly when a sub came on. It was so hard for a competitive guy like myself to just sit while the rest of the guys played and worked for victories.
The hardest minutes to play were always the final ones of a game that was already clearly out of hand; either our team was up by an insurmountable lead or we were clearly outclassed. In those instances, our coach would look to take the starters out. I was grateful to be on this team but I knew that I was only being put in the game because the outcome was already determined. I felt like the proverbial white flag because it was clear that we were going to lose. I would hate that feeling so much because I wasn’t being put in to contribute. In fact, the mere reality that I was going in during those times meant that whatever I did would not matter.
I felt like the opportunities that I got weren’t suitable for me. Then again, I had the wrong conception of opportunity. Maybe you do too.
Do you feel like you are lacking opportunities in your life that others seem to have?
The Oxford Dictionary defines Opportunities as A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. My something in this instance was to get more playing time. For you it could be getting hired, being promoted, the chance to lead, to start a business, or any other worthy opportunity.
Where we fail is that you are looking, or better said, we are waiting for the right circumstances and the reality is that in life, the circumstances won’t always be right. Some of you are waiting for the stars to align, for there to be enough money in your bank account, for every one in your life to back you up, and for there to be no sign of adversity. If you’re waiting for your life to be perfect for you to embark on a journey to you realizing your potential then sadly you will miss your chance in life.
I read this one day on Twitter, “if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
That’s what I needed to do then and that’s what you need to do now.
I was so busy pouting about the circumstances that wouldn’t allow me to play that I failed to realize the circumstances that were available for me. I would whine and complain and say things like, “I work so hard everyday at practice and coach won’t even put me in the game.” I was so bitter. I could have changed the circumstances by changing my mindset.
Here’s a few mindset shifts when dealing with lack of opportunities:
1) Use The Time to Get Better
Instead of being so discouraged every day of the season, I could have worked on my game more and more. I could have used days that I wasn’t subbed in to run extra laps when everyone else went home. I could have partnered up with another teammate of mine who was also going through the same thing and practiced on our footwork and technique. Instead of mopping I could worked on my strengths so that I could excel when given any opportunity at all.
You can also work on your craft even if your not “in the game”. I didn’t get playing time because I wasn’t good enough. I can admit that. That doesn’t mean I could not have gotten better. Maybe you don’t have what is demanded from you to achieve your dreams right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t get better.
“Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.” - Harvard Business Review
2) Choose to Not Get Bitter
If you find yourself getting bitter because you’ve been waiting on the sidelines and not getting picked then know that life has afforded you more time to improve. Change your mindset. Say this everyday, “When things don’t go your way I will choose to get better instead of getting bitter.”
Not getting bitter isn’t easy. In fact, it’s really hard because it is the easiest thing to do. If you keep telling yourself that you won’t make it, that you aren’t good enough, that you’re not worth it, then you’ll end up believing that and will forfeit your efforts. Getting better takes work. It takes grit. You have to hustle to improve what you have, what you know, and what you do.
Attitude is everything and you have to find the willpower to defeat a poor attitude. When you have a poor attitude you gain a poor outlook on things and that leads to poor vision. If can’t see where your potential can take you then you have no reason to improve.
“Your attitude, not our aptitude, will determine you altitude.” - Zig Ziglar
I am reminded of the scripture that reads, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. - 1 Timothy 1:7
Every morning pray that you will not be shy with your gifts to honor Him. He will give you the power to be disciplined in your thoughts because that same power also grants you self-control. You attitude reflects your mindset and if you can’t control your thoughts, your actions won’t produce anything good.
3) Stay Ready
I love helping people. I find joy in serving others achieve what they want. When I was younger, being the go-to person for advice amongst my friends was also a pride thing. Nevertheless, I always hoped to serve people well.
I had a friend whom I really wanted to introduce to Christ. This person’s life was a mess and he knew I was a believer. Unlike me, he declared himself an atheist. I would pray for him, that God would save him and turn his life around.
This was my constant thought, “I’m praying for my friend and that’s all I can do because he is totally against Jesus.” I was hoping that my prayers would be enough but I knew that God would want me to be the one to introduce him. So I studied scripture and prayed that I would discern the right time to speak to my friend about the gospel.
One day, out of no-where, he comes to me at school and he tells me how his dad left his family and went back to Mexico. He was devastated because his mom was ill and he had 4 siblings that he was now in charge of. Just when I thought he was done he said that he couldn’t get a job because he was addicted to drugs.
He looked at me and said, “tell me about Jesus.”
We talked for two whole hours at a taco stand about faith and life. The moment I was praying for came and I was confident in my belief that he was being transformed, not because of my gifts but because he found me ready for this situation. I was prepared for it. Just so you know, he found his passion for playing music and now serves on his worship team.
“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” - Whitney M. Young
If your dream is to run your own business don’t blame your lack of money for your failure to plan. If you fail to plan than you’re planning to fail. Create a business plan even if you don’t have a business. Become an apprentice to someone who does what you one day want to do. Know who your customers will be and what will separate you from your competition. What if someone comes along and wants to invest money in your dream and you have nothing to show for it? Start now!
Begin to envision the possibility as reality. You know that if you stay ready you won’t have get ready. Prepare your mind for what may come. My problem was that when I was finally put in the game, I’d want to make the spectacular plays to wow my coach. I tried the impossible because I badly wanted to show off what I could do. If I had been practicing on my skills I wouldn’t have had to do that. I could have played simple, mistake-free soccer. Maybe that would have earned me the coach’s trust. That could have led to more minutes the next game and so on.
Don’t make that mistake. When we aren’t ready for opportunities we scramble to pull a rabbit out of hat. That may work one time but time reveals all.
So now, don’t be upset with how your life is going right now. Allow yourself to position yourself for success. You never know when opportunity may come knocking. Remember to get better, not bitter, and to be ready at all times.
Share with me your dream and how you plan to get better for the opportunities that you want. Pass this along with everyone you know. Thank you for reading. God bless you!