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Three Practices to Help Recognize Opportunity

They say that opportunity knocks. But I disagree. Most of the time, I think it whispers.

For us, our latest opportunity presented itself in a very unexpected way.

On June 3rd, one of my mentors mentioned a contest that looked interesting: Etsy Wholesale was putting out an opportunity to apply to their Open Call program. There were only 24 hours left to apply. Out of the 5000+ applicants, 30 would eventually be chosen to pitch some very big retailers at the Etsy HQ in New York–including Nordstrom, Land of Nod, Walker Art Gallery, Lou & Grey, and Clementine.

I remember thinking, “I’m not sure if I have the time today…” I thought about it for a few moments, trying to listen closely as my intuitive side and my practical side had a debate. Opportunity or wishful thinking? Valuable time spent or precious time squandered?

I decided to go for it. After all…I believe that focused energy is never in vain if you’re willing to recognize the benefits of the effort, not just the result.

A week later, I got an email from Etsy HQ. We had been chosen. My hands shook as I read the details. Robert and I will be going to New York. It will be an incredible opportunity, unlike any other we’ve had up to this point.

And it’s easy to look at this opportunity from the outside and think that we were in the right place at the right time…and maybe, in many ways, we were.

But unless you play the lottery or have a long lost relative you never knew about, nothing really changes overnight. And similarly, opportunities usually don’t just appear out of thin air. Often, an opportunity is the result of many hours of preparation, of hard work, and of cultivating a sense of readiness.

But even after laying the groundwork, it doesn’t work to just wait in expectation for the opportunities to come rolling in. Nope–you keep going. You keep moving forward. You hope but don’t rely upon.

And most importantly, you remain open.

Often, opportunities aren’t found in the form of silver bullets or easy answers.  They are whispered amongst the noisy chatter of other chances I’ve taken, other dreams, other hopes. Sometimes it is hard to realize that they will be real opportunities at all until I decide to listen to the persistent whisper and take a chance on a new path.

Sometimes, those paths have led to dead ends. But sometimes, they’ve been the gateways to entirely new landscapes.

I’ve found there are three keys to taking advantage of whispered opportunities: laying solid foundation for opportunity to thrive,  keeping a heart that is open to unexpected ways in which opportunities can present themselves, and not being afraid of those dead ends (you never know–sometimes there are even opportunities hidden in the roadblocks).

In just three short weeks, Robert and I will be face-to-face with buyers from some of the most respected retailers in the country. I don’t know what will come of it, but I do know that this opportunity has the potential to change our landscape.

Take chances. Be brave. And always, always remain open to the whispers. You never know where you might end up.

You can read more about the Etsy Open Call program here

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