MONDAY BYTES — February 8, 2016
I have a new appreciation for a common musician affliction: opportunity blindness—a form of situational short sightedness rendering us unable to see opportunities within our reach.
Most of us view our careers by measuring what’s missing, what we haven’t accomplished—the glass half empty. We’re so distracted by what we don’t see, that we’re unable to perceive our actual circumstances: our contacts, support, community, and resources—so we may miss opportunities directly in front of us.
In the career advising meetings I do at the Chamber Music America conference, I hear talented, accomplished people talk about their goals and challenges. And then my questions were often about what has worked well in the past and what resources do they have going for them now.
One musician I met with produces a concert series, renting expensive performance spaces and hiring additional terrific performers for creative programming, and doing all of the organizing and publicity himself.
The problem for the musician is the expense and exhaustive effort it takes to do this several times a year. Although the concerts go well, he says they don’t seem to be gaining traction or leading to other opportunities.
So from an entrepreneurial perspective, here’s a project that doesn’t seem to be a good return on the investment. And so the question is what to do about it?
In talking to him, I found out he also teaches part time at a college and also works a church job.
So my questions were about the potentially free performance spaces he’s connected with where he might create an ongoing “home series” for these concerts and build an audience. To me, this seemed like missed opportunities—venues as potential institutional collaborators and partners instead of costly rental situations.
For this musician, though, the lure of the fancier “name” halls in the nearby city had all the attraction. Creating a home series from scratch out in the burbs just wasn’t appealing.
So behind this “missed opportunity” was the real question—for all of us—what is it we actually want?
Is it to be performing regularly for appreciative audiences and in the process building our reputation as a valuable contributor in our communities?
Or is this about “proving” ourselves by performing at a high profile venue, hoping to get reviews in order to be “discovered”?
It’s up to you to choose the goals you go after—just make sure you’re honest with yourself about why!
The realization I walked away with is that there are opportunities all around us, many of which we’re blind to because of distraction, exhaustion, or because we’re unclear about our motivation or goal.
Opportunities are like footholds, they are platforms for career growth. And it’s a lot easier to see our opportunities when we’re clear about our goals and motivation.
This week: I invite you to take on the “Where’s the Opportunity?” challenge. Track the number of career-related opportunities (big or small) you can identify this week—opportunities that you could potentially help you achieve your goals. From a new contact you meet to a ventures you read about—consider your possibilities.