7 Ways to Help Yourself Recognize Opportunity

One of most powerful ways to change your life and the lives of others is by spotting opportunities for improvement. Opportunity is in front of your eyes – right now – and you don’t see it. So how do you open your eyes wider? How do you see the hidden opportunity that exists everywhere in your environment?

· Develop relationships with highly creative people – Creative people see opportunity everywhere and their insight will rub off on you. The best way to learn to see a world of possibilities is to hang out with people that spend most of their time actively creating things. People who create art, literature, businesses, graphics, websites, ideas, music, markets, products, or anything else constructive. Find ways to spend your days and nights talking about creative ideas and thinking about possibilities. With Web 2.0 and social media your opportunity to meet other creative people and share ideas is greater than ever before in human history. No matter where you are, if you can connect to the internet, you can meet and hobnob with creative people from every corner of the globe. What an amazing possibility this is. Think of the endless opportunity our connectedness provides.

· Write down everything that surprises you – Many great opportunities are fueled by surprises. Surprises are usually funny, amazing, and insightful. Carry a small notebook and digital camera everywhere and document everything that surprises you. You will find endless opportunity to create things from your surprises.

· Journal about problems – Some people say there is no such thing as a problem; there are only opportunities. I concede they may be right. For every problem there is a solution and that solution will have value to others. Documenting obstacles and problems and the solutions you use to overcome them is an opportunity for you to bring value to others.

· Journal about possibilities – Imagine grand possibilities and write them down. Imagine inexpensive limitless clean energy. What would it look like? How would we use it? Imagine yourself being the greatest possible person you can be. What would you be? Imagine your dream business. Imagine the future you would create if you could create any possible future. What would it look like? Write it down. Find the opportunities hidden inside your imagination.

· Be open to unorthodox ideas – If your first reaction to an idea is defensive, stop yourself and think “Wait, listen, let them finish. Listen to the entire idea and then imagine the possibility of the idea.” Don’t shoot down an idea just because it sounds far out or strange. Give it a moment, wait for your defensiveness to pass and then look at it again. Sleep on it or wait several days to get your prejudices out of the way. It has taken years of persistence for me to accept several unorthodox ideas that have proven valuable.

· Eliminate limiting beliefs and mindsets – Are you one of those people that say “I’m just not that creative.” Do you think playing with gadgets is frivolous? Are you a bit too serious? Are you easily offended? Are you willing to indulge your curiosity or are you afraid of looking foolish? Do feel a need to follow the rules without question? All these things come from limiting beliefs and mindsets which will limit your ability to sense opportunities. Identify and smash your limiting beliefs.

· Be grateful –Being grateful is the antidote to resentment and complacency. Resentment and complacency block your ability to see clearly. The best way to clear resentment and complacency from your mind is to be grateful for where you are right now. Be grateful for your gifts and your weaknesses. Be grateful for your success and your setbacks. If you are grateful for all things, including those that appear to go wrong, you will be able to see them for the opportunities they are.

36 thoughts on “7 Ways to Help Yourself Recognize Opportunity”

  1. Another excellent post, Steve! I particularly agree with “be grateful” because I believe that the very act of gratitude helps change the way a person sees the world around them. It not only opens eyes to opportunities, but heart and soul as well. I call it “brain work” because it isn’t easy — it wasn’t for me — and it takes effort to pull yourself out of a rut of negativity. But nothing is surer to work than gratitude! Speaking of which, thanks as always for your encouraging words.

  2. Very good post.

    Being a creative person I know what it’s like to have loads of ideas all the time. The only thing is that sometimes I just don’t know what idea to work on next!

    To take your concept further. If you are a creative person, hang out with structured, organised people as their sense of order will rub off on you. After all we all have our strengths and weaknesses.


  3. This is really inspiring! As a creative person, I hope others find this type of inspiration from me. I know I need it wherever I can get it, and that’s part of the reason I’m drawn to other creative people!

  4. Very nice post. I especially agree with #1. If you can’t put yourself with free thinkers, its going to be difficult to get your mind out of the rut.

  5. Way to go! Amigo!
    There is no such thing called “problem” they are all opportunities.
    AND it is very true – This I would say, is the first sept to positive and the right approach to our success.
    I too agree with all, This is really inspiring!

  6. Great Post Steve,

    Keeping a blog to write down what you mentioned in points 2-4 is a great way to attract solutions and opportunities from like minded people. It is the place where many have grown from a simple online journal into a great business. 🙂

    It is in my opinion that point 6 on Mindset and Limiting believes is the greatest hindrance to spotting opportunities because they do not belief. I share a lot about getting rid of Limiting Believes and Giving Gratitude on my blog too.

    Keep the post coming Steve, you are doing Great!

  7. Terrific article Steve,

    I love the idea about using a notebook and digital camera to capture anything surprising. Great way to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. Or problems looking for a solution! I’m going to use these tips! Thanks,


  8. It’s true about hanging out with creative people. Their influence can really change our ways. It’s like filling our environment with opportunities with their generous help..

  9. Steve, I guess you didn’t get the comment I posted earlier ’cause I’m seeing ones dated after mine. You did ask for “comments” and not just “praise,” right? Trying again:

    Just what the Internet needs, another site recycling random old saws and passing them off as wisdom. What, no trusting my instincts, looking in my own back yard, or embracing my inner child? Worthless, except as a placebo for the highly suggestible. “Stare into the light, and you will see what you want to see…”

  10. Dave,

    I did moderate your comment. Not because it was critical, but because I thought it was trollish.

    I post comments all the time that disagree, but I rarely post ones that have troll written all over them.

    I get trolls trying to bait me into some long debate about the merits of my posts and I don’t have the time. If I debated all you trolls, I’d have no time to blog, raise my family, or build my business. If you don’t like it, read something else, it’s your time. Spend it doing something you enjoy – or is this what you enjoy? Telling bloggers how much they suck.

    If you expect me to debate you, forget it, get your own blog. I’ve got better things to do.

    I get it. You think my ideas are trite and are cluttering up the internet. Great, then drown me out with a better blog of your own. Or better yet, go find something you like to read, and quit wasting your time being a smartass. Your comment isn’t clever or ironic, it’s Jr. High sarcasm at it’s worst. It adds nothing. It’s bait, and unfortunately, I was sucker enough to take it. That’s why I moderated it in the first place.

  11. I haven’t tried hanging out with creative people, but I think it’s a great idea. The opportunities we see may not be for us, but their ways of approaching it can teach us great lessons about opportunities.

  12. Hi Steve! I started to say thank you. I stumbled upon your post and the idea of journaling (which I haven’t had to do since school) actually sounds like a really good idea to take up again.

    Then I got a bit sidetracked with your response to the troll guy, but also enjoyed that immensely.

    I will be back!

  13. Steve, if I were a troll I wouldn’t have given you my real name & email address. The purpose of my comment was not to provoke for the sake of provoking, but to state an honest opinion on a subject that’s a pet peeve of mine. Go to the Self-Help section of any bookstore and you’ll find a ton of lists, systems and plans that promise the secret to living up to your potential, increasing your social power, ending procrastination, etc. that flat out contradict each other. Even our proverbs conflict: silence is golden vs. the squeaking wheel gets the grease; you’re never too old to learn vs. you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, etc.

    The problem is that complex things like creativity are the result of the interaction of many different factors. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be some fundamental tips based on solid principles of human creativity, but finding them requires doing research across people & situations. Otherwise the placebo effect I mentioned will cause anything that you throw against the wall to stick. If you say getting a good night’s sleep aids creativity, or eating a big meal, or skipping a meal, there’s gonna be lots of people that try each and say it worked for them. But it’s not real knowledge about what fosters creativity; it’s just noise. Of which we’re seeing too much on the Internet these days, I contend. (And I haven’t even touched on the first problem, defining creativity.)

    But that’s my opinion, and as you correctly point out, I can put it out there on my own site if I want. You’ve inspired me to do just that. I posted my comment on yours because if you e-publish something and ask for comments, the assumption is that you’re open to hear the range of opinions you’re likely to get. But you were under no obligation to do so; this is your blog and you can post & screen out whatever you want. You’re to be commended for displaying it — even if you did frame it as the ramblings of a troll in order to dismiss it 🙂

  14. Whoops, I meant recognizing opportunity, not aiding creativity. Just substitute; still works.

  15. Dave,

    I’m glad you’re not a troll. Thanks for getting back with a thoughtful comment. I do appreciate them. Funny, in a way, I do agree somewhat and I’m glad you’ve started a site. Feel free to leave a link in the comments when it is ready.

    Glittering platitudes. Yep they are everywhere and frequently contradict each other.

    The self-help list post is what seems to bother you and they bother me too, sometimes. I had great success with this blog in the first 5 months using frequent list posts. I tried going without them for the next six months and my traffic bombed. I’ve brought them back and guess what… my traffic is back.

    People are busy and they like quick hitting hints that will help them with their lives and that is why the list posts are so popular. They may be somewhat shallow on substance, but if some people start journaling more because of this post, I believe it has done the world some good. If it helps them spot opportunities they’ve overlooked, even better. I journal everyday and it helps me spot opportunities I would have never seen if I hadn’t been writing. I’ve made writing a daily habit and it has changed my life.

    I love self-help stuff, some of it is fantastic and some of it is useless. But let me tell you one little story…

    An old alcoholic once told me, “I’ve been going to AA meetings for 30 years and I haven’t heard anything new in 29. But it keeps me sober and growing and reminds me to take care of myself. It doesn’t need to be fresh and new all the time. Think about what works and make it a habit”

    Everything useful doesn’t have to be fresh!

    Self-help is a lot the same way. If you get people thinking about business and opportunity they are more likely to spot it and develop positive habits around their daily routine.

    Thanks for coming back and I apologize for calling you a troll.

    And Dave, maybe you don’t need this self-help stuff but a lot of us do. We’ve been educated to think very destructive limiting things about ourselves and our world and this blog is my antidote. It works for me.

  16. I do agree with Dave a little that this top 7 lists can be quite trite and not really offer anything of value most of the time BUT you never know when there will be something on there that has meaning for you, and they are so quick and easy to digest that I can’t see the harm.

    I am going to be writing about some self help / psychology / business ideas in depth and the convergence of those areas over the next few weeks

  17. I rarely comment…. Just read, absorb, and move on. But after the (PHD!!!!) I felt I should throw in a short comment. First, anyone who must put (PHD!!!!) after their name is rather insecure, I would think. I have degrees, no need to tell you about them to trust that you will take my comment for what it is worth. I’ve read self-help, I’ve watched Dr. Phil, I even was a motivational speaker and trainer for a few years. I know from my own experience and from what other’s tell me is you never know when you might learn something from something you’ve seen or read dozens of times before. It sometimes hits you like a bolt out of the blue… just like the inspiration you are helping us to find. Your list is concise and imaginative and fresh. I appreciate how it is a list about “opportunity,” which still requires personal involvement to recognize and utilize it.

  18. Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there, knowing that for every person that loves what you write there will be others who will criticize. Each of us is doing the best we know how to do – even if intellectually we “know” something yet do not yet operate from our heart.

    I am grateful for you and everyone else willing to write their truth as they currently experience it. Your writing has often blessed me and I wanted to let you know.


  19. Kudos. A good, quick Seven Steps. Normally, I wouldn’t bother commenting, but I read David Phd’s deflating comments and felt ‘compelled’. I rarely print out much from the internet, but your points rang true to me, particularly as a foil to my tendency toward negative thinking. Keep it up!

  20. Excellent post! One of the best I’ve read online. It’s amazing what skills we take for granted until later in life when we look around and realize how many opportunities we’ve missed. Thank you!

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