Opportunity simply means a combination of circumstances or situations that are favorable to you or a chance that gives you some advantage. People that are hugely successful in their business, career, profession and other areas of life make good use of their opportunities.

Do opportunities discriminate? No! Are they selective? No! They’re everywhere, everyday, and can be discovered by just anybody. The irony is that they can come as challenges, necessities, problems, and other such adverse situation; maybe that’s why many people often miss them.

But Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, saw her opportunities in obstacles. Her experience in a male-dominated corporate world was something that could have hindered some women in life. In her company, she’s was not always taken seriously; her suggestions, ideas, and opinions were either ignored, jettisoned, or dismissed outright. She was often told, “you’re thinking like a woman”.

Instead of allowing that to place a limitation on her performance and determination, she rather regarded “thinking like a woman” to be an asset instead of a liability or disadvantage. She saw it as a great opportunity.

Men she trained in sales would even be promoted over her. When she was denied a promotion, she decided to invest her life’s savings of $5,000 in Mary Kay Cosmetics, beginning with a storefront in Dallas. That small opportunity she seized grew into a multi-milion dollar business. By the time she died in 2001, at age 83, the company had 800,000 independent beauty consultants in 37 countries, and annual sales of over $2 billion.
In life, her prioritization was God first, family second, and work third. She was a best-selling author of a number of books. The Mary Kay Foundation is committed to ending domestic violence and cancers affecting women.

I agree with Charles Kettering that “The opportunities of man are limited only by his imagination.” These are some of the ways you can make most of your opportunities.

First, stop worrying over good opportunities you had missed before: At one time or the other, you had missed a chance you later discovered that it was a golden opportunity. One great and comforting truth is that when one door closes, another opens; but often people look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that they don’t see the new ones that open for them. Right where you’re, if you look closely, there’re new opportunities that have opened for you. John Burroughs says that “The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”

Second, good habits and qualities always open doors of new opportunities. Some of the qualities are: right mind-set, spirit of adventure, self-knowledge, skills, initiative and drive, courage, resilience, flexibility, etc.

Third, don’t wait for the “best” opportunities, seize the ones that look ordinary. Orison Swett Marden pens down these living lines, “Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.” Many of the people who really matter today, whether they’re great scientists, inventors, innovators, millionaires and billionaires, authors, entrepreneurs and CEOs, and so on, started with a very small opportunity.

Fourth, take calculated risks. Many opportunities disguise as situations of helping fellow human beings or providing a solution to some problem people are facing. Even this has some element of risk. Some inventors were initially resisted, some innovators were initially misunderstood, but they took calculated risks. Do you know that in the early 1750s, people hurled trash and insults at the first man who used an umbrella in British streets?

Are you aware that invention of the light bulb and airplane were not initially welcomed? Do you also know that in the beginning, the invention of bicycles, automobiles, and even computers/laptops were criticized for various reasons? So examine the ideas for a solution you see around you, analyze them to see their future potentials and prospects, weight the risk involved, and once you’re convinced that the result is worth the effort, take the plunge.

Fifth, daily refuel your inspiration: I really love this thing Harry Loranyne says, “Opportunity is a state of mind – plus action.” What keeps you inspired and motivated all the time? Are you today upbeat and tomorrow downbeat? Are you given to mood swing? Do negative circumstances of life easily discourage you?

The most successful people in every country have a way of always keeping their hope alive, always focusing on their goal, despite the changing and challenging times. The people that have made it to the top in their callings in life are optimists, they’ve problems also. The description by Reginald B. Mansell that an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties, really fits them. He sees pessimists as people who make difficulties of their opportunities. Choose where you belong.

After all said and done, don’t live in the fear of what the future may hold. Rather, live in the anticipation of the new opportunities that lie ahead.