Opportunity, Not Outcome

Todd and I sat on my couch in Vegas today. He was on his computer researching home automation stuff, and I was cleaning up my place, getting it ready to hibernate until I return.

I didn’t expect to like Vegas so much, I told him with a smile. He agreed.

Most of my week was spent smashing out drywall in the bathroom to install a bath, doing light electrical work, and preparing my book for its release. But we still had time to play poker three times, see Francisco Domingo sing, and check out a few new restaurants in the area. And I flew to Kansas City for twenty-four hours to see my friend Roxy fight, which I include as a Vegas thing because it was facilitated by living five minutes away from the cheapest airport in the US.

I had no idea what to expect when I bought my place in Vegas. I didn’t know if I’d spend most of my time there, a sliver of my time there, or just rent it out. I hadn’t even seen the place or the neighborhood by the time I closed.

I bought it not for any one outcome, but for the opportunity. I saw a pile of upside with a small price tag, and I jumped on it. I figured that buying it would create some great opportunity, even if I didn’t quite know what it was.

Now I love Vegas. I love working on my condo there, I love working in my office that Ergo Depot very generously outfitted, and most of all I love entertaining people. I have a guest bed, and I built a small tea room that I mostly use when guests are over. I also subscribed to a service called House Seats that allows me to get free tickets to a lot of good shows. Even though I’ve only had my place for six months or so and have spent most of my time away, I’ve had at least seven guests that I can remember off the top of my head.

You don’t have to know exactly why you’re doing something to do it. And even if you think you know why you’re doing it, you benefit by keeping an open mind to other possibilities.

If you trust yourself to mold opportunity into good outcomes, your primary goal should be to find good opportunities. And, of course, part of what makes a good opportunity good is accessibility. Working your way into a job that you’re wholly unqualified for doesn’t count as creating opportunity, because you have no real way to turn that opportunity into results. I thought about buying in Detroit, but decided against it because I didn’t see a way to make something something out of that.

Another good example, one that most of us can relate to, is making friends. We don’t choose our friends for specific purposes, but because we know that by having them good things will happen. I think that’s why I’ve been willing to jump into long distance relationships, even when the happy resolution to the distance isn’t obvious. I see potential in a person, in a relationship, and I’m optimistic about figuring out a way to reach that potential.

Something that drives me up the wall sometimes is watching people miss out on opportunities. I don’t know what the world looks like from their perspective, but from mine it looks like they see an opportunity, can’t figure out exactly how it will play out to the end, and shy away. This probably shouldn’t drive me crazy, because we all have the privilege of choosing how we live our lives, but it does anyway.

When something looks like a big pile of opportunity, but definitely doesn’t look like a multi-level marketing scheme, bias yourself towards jumping in. I do it all the time and can’t think of a time I regret.


Photo is a staircase on the way up Diamond Head, Honolulu. Was just there yesterday on a layover on the way to Tokyo.

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