Many people haven’t yet found a great opportunity. In some cases they don’t even know that they are missing one. What a shame!

Just in case you know someone like that, let me describe what I mean by a great opportunity so you can pass along the information: A great opportunity lifts you and those around you to greater heights of accomplishment, connection, and satisfaction.

In the abstract those characteristics may do little to inform you beyond increasing your interest. Let me share three personal experiences to explain what I mean.

The first great opportunity was beginning a new business. With the ripe old age of thirty looming just ahead of me, I decided that the time was right to found my own consulting firm. To test the practicality of this idea, I contacted all my former clients from when I had been on staff at a well-known firm three years earlier.

To my happy astonishment they all hired me, and I was soon busy day and night, seven days a week. Since I still held my full-time job, the result was to boost my income through the roof. I felt secure in this new role, yet I was also filled with a sense of unbounded opportunity. It was great!

The second great opportunity involved learning a new set of skills. My first two children were boys, and our town’s youth were crazy about soccer. There was a problem: Hardly any adults understood the game. Although I had watched matches since I was twenty, I was clueless about how to help a team improve.

A shortage of coaches led to me being drafted into service. Fortunately, an occasional parent was soccer-savvy and shared his or her knowledge. After a few years I began to know what to do.

From the time I began coaching, we won. Then we won some more. After that we never stopped winning … for many years. Teams melted away in our presence. Even if we fell behind, the players would storm back with a flurry of goals. The team and I retired undefeated when my older son was a high school senior. It was just amazing!

The third great opportunity involved starting a hobby. My younger son got me going. I had just written a book, and Internet bookstores were becoming important. He suggested I write some online book reviews. I tried a few and liked the experience.

Within a year I was meeting authors I had always wanted to know. Reporters were interviewing me. Millions of people were reading my comments. Publishers wanted to know my opinions about book proposals. I was astonished!

What do starting a small business, volunteering to coach, and developing a new hobby have in common? In my case each of these steps led me to a great opportunity.

Let me share some lessons from these and other great opportunities. Great opportunities always:

(1) seem as if they are optional when you first consider them,

(2) appear least engaging and rewarding in the beginning,

(3) reveal their ultimate scope only after you seriously engage in them,

(4) are impossible to ignore once begun,

(5) reveal themselves through the passions they generate in others, and

(6) provide you with better moments in life than you ever imagined could occur.

These six characteristics show that great opportunities provide little warning when they approach. How can you find them?

Let me draw from my own experiences to suggest some possible guideposts so you won’t miss any great opportunities:

(1) Pay attention to what excites others.

My former clients’ universal interest in working with me immediately revealed unmistakable potential. The soccer craze among youngsters promised that great energy would be brought to the sport. The never-ending conversations I heard about online book reviews presaged a new way for people to decide what to read.

(2) Prepare to engage effectively in the exciting new activity.

I had worked at business problem-solving for six years before starting my own practice. I had watched high-level soccer games for years before that was popular and continually sought advice on how to coach. I had been a voracious reader all my life and had recently become a book author, which had required upgrading my writing.

By now you are probably tired of reading about my experiences. Let me share with you instead the experiences and observations of a student of mine has to say about great opportunities: Martin Benjamin-Addy, a 2012 MBA graduate of Rushmore University.

Mr. Benjamin-Addy was born in Ghana and works there now in IT for the nation’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), a very prestigious and attractive place to be employed. I found the story of how he developed this great opportunity to be quite revealing. Let me explain:

Martin had always admired and studied successful businesspeople. As a young man, such study led him to buy and sell electronic gadgets and accessories. Working with his older brother, he earned enough to start a higher diploma in computer sciences.

Opportunity and preparation had overlapped.

While studying computer sciences, he received several awards in accounting. After obtaining a higher diploma from the Institute for Management Information Systems UK, he was hired by SSNIT as a data verification and validation officer.

When his new employer selected the Oracle database software for data management, Mr. Benjamin-Addy was appointed to the system implementation team. That experience led him to learn on the job how to be an Oracle Database Administrator. Since then, he has continually updated his knowledge. Opportunity and preparation had again overlapped.

What’s next? It’s never totally clear, but Martin is clearly looking for the next great opportunity. “With the MBA feather in my cap, coupled with my previous experience, I have gained the mental fortitude of the billionaire that I have always yearned to be. This toughness will be a big benefit to me, my family, my country, Africa, and humanity as a whole. The sky will be my stepping-stone.”

Hopefully, I’ve intrigued you with the notion that great opportunities may be present in unexpected activities and circumstances. I don’t know what your great opportunities are, but I’m sure you have several of them.

Once you feel that you’ve found a great opportunity, prepare as if your life depended on it. While that’s certainly not the case, such intense preparation will give you ways to grasp more of your great opportunity. You’ll be glad you did.

What are you waiting for? Start looking and preparing!

Author's Bio: 

Donald W. Mitchell is a professor at Rushmore University who often teaches people who want to improve their business effectiveness in order to accomplish career breakthroughs through earning advanced degrees. For more information about ways to engage in fruitful lifelong learning at Rushmore University to increase your effectiveness, I invite you to visit