Opportunity Is Not Work, But Adventures Into Excellence
This is a continuation of my pieces on opportunities. Here, I make a case for the exploitation and exploration of any opportunity as an invitation to do what needs done to excel on any particular or specific instances one is opportune to find oneself. Opportunity is not a sort of work that is guaranteed to last from 9–5, or forever. More so, opportunity is ephemeral in the age of information-telecommunication systems. What once was taken for granted are no more. Middling is gone. Mediocrity is now automated. Work is not what it used to be.
In my earlier articles, I mentioned labor (work) as one of the institutions men and women invented to build human civilizations. Work still matters though. But the nature and scope of work has evolved to the extent that, what used to be measured by humans’ physical ability and agility are now done by machine and robotics. While labor and work still exist as part of the institutions needed to sustain human civilization, there is an increasing dread that it may be replaced by robotics; but still qualified as work nonetheless.
So, any opportunity to use one’s head and hands for the production of essential goods and services still remain integral to human survival. The kinds of work that predominate today are mental, not manual; service over manufacturing; transitory rather than permanent; global over local. And above all, constantly in flux.
Today’s opportunities to produce and regenerate the self and society are no more through manual labor signified by sweat and tears, and stress, and body aches, and back-breaking regiments; but through the exertion of mental agility.
Opportunity to work today is a sprint to the finishing line. That demands accuracy and precision.
When one is given an opportunity, or in whatever combination the opportunity avails itself, one needs to see and receive it as a baton being passed on in a relay race. The receiver must sprint and dash with speed, alacrity, focus, commitment, dedication, and determination to the rope. The baton handed over from one runner to another is an opportunity, earned, derived, given, inherited, legislated, etc. [Refers to my 30 Ways To Leverage Opportunity]
An opportunity is what one has in one’s hands to make the best use of. That requires more than effort and just showing up. It demands doing, implementing, and executing for desired objectives.
Opportunity As Work V. Opportunity As Adventure
As I write this I remember one of the exchanges I had with an administrative colleague in the academy where I once taught. She saw her position as an opportunity that could be taken away from her if she did not perform, unlike mine as a tenured professor, that was protected by the Collective Bargaining Agreement of the Union.
To my female colleague in university administration who contrasted her opportunity with me in the non-administrative, but teaching faculty, I had a different opportunity. My opportunity was due legal and labor regulated clauses in the Collective Bargaining. She, as an administrator was not bound or lacked the luxury of union. Still, she had an opportunity, being a Black woman, in a predominantly White academic institution.
She saw opportunity as work. Her seeing opportunity as work fits my marathon race analogy. In a marathon, the goal is completion, not the time or speed with which the race is ran. She did not have the urgency to excel as an administrator. She was not bound by the publish or perish constrictions that I faced as a teaching and researching academic faculty.
As both Blacks in the United States, yes, we both had opportunities. But these were of varying gradations. As a woman, she had a double opportunity over mine, only one as a Black male.
Opportunity Is A Sprint, Not A Marathon, Race
A marathon is a chore. It drags. One has no fixed time to complete. One is determined to complete, but not at a predetermined time. The joy is in taking part. No matter how long it takes, so long as one finishes it, the race is good enough. Indeed, marathon is a test in endurance. Opportunity as an adventure, on the other hand, evokes a sprint mentality to race to the finishing line in quick time.
So, opportunity in my estimation is not a marathon; but a sprint.
Opportunity Is A Race For Efficiency In Time
Opportunity is not a test of one’s endurance. Instead, it is an exhibition of competence, productivity, and performance in time and place. One is given a moment in frame, in a fixed time and locale to perform; and performance imbued with excellence.
With opportunity not seen as work, one is expected and required to execute to one’s capacity; not to one’s ability.
In opportunity as adventure proposition, ability is assumed; but capacity is on test. When one is given a chance, one is assumed to have what it takes to deliver.
Opportunity as adventure embraces life as either success or failure. One either fails or not succeed. In fact, accepting opportunity as adventure, excludes failure as an option.
People who have opportunities do not fail; they deliver. No failing. One must succeed. Success is executing to meet the goal and objectives laid down by the institutions or companies.
Opportunity And Excellence
Success in opportunity as adventure presupposes that one is going to mobilize any and all resources in one’s capacity to produce, perform, and excel. In the book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons From America’s Best Run Companies by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr., first published in 1982, it exposes the art and science of management for objectives.
High performance relies on opportunities to mobilize and utilize available resources to deliver on the goals of existence, either as a business or as any institution.
Excellence is not a static trait. So opportunities must be calibrated to adapt to the changes in all institutions. And where applicable, such changes must be adopted to stay relevant and excellent.
Opportunity And Risk
In opportunity as adventure is implied risk. Every opportunity is a risk taken by both the giver and the recipient of that opportunity. It is a risk to even earn the ability because one is going to be tested to use that ability to maximum capacity.
Every opportunity, regardless of the computation for its materialization is a risk assumed, taken, earned, given, legislated, derived, inherited, and so on.
Opportunity And Action
There is an inherent bias to action in every opportunity. That means one has to get at it; get with it; get on it; go for it; and be with it. Whatever opportunity has to meet the decision to deliver, to do, to execute, to implement, else there is failure and low productivity down the line.
Opportunity And Productivity
It becomes an opportunity if everyone and every resource is tapped into fully, to get the outcome desired. It is a bad management principle where some members are mere decorations and ‘affirmative action,’ ‘equity,’ and ‘diversity’ employees.
Everyone needs be treated and engaged as a source for productivity. Management must see that it is an opportunity to hire the best, and the most intelligent, most capable, and most committed, and educated members of all class into their corporations. Opportunity does not equate with mediocrities or inferiority and low expectations in performance characteristics.
It is an equal opportunity benefit to both employers and employees, when and if everyone has the same opportunities to excel.
Opportunity And Vision
In the book, Built To Last: Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras in their study of eighteen truly exceptional companies studied and compared their competitors, beginning with and including, start-ups, to mid-sized, and large corporations. The key question that pervaded the text is, “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?”
The authors write: “Visionary companies are so clear about what they stand for and what they’re trying to achieve that they simply don’t have room for those unwilling or unable to fit their exacting standards.”
What was overwhelmingly present in the highly successful companies was a cult-like devotion to a “core ideology” or identity, and active indoctrination of employees into “ideologically commitment” to the company.
Ideological commitment provides the opportunity to the core mandates, as well as continuity and change, en route to excellence.
Any opportunity thus affords both the institutions and their members a commitment to core values that form the emblematic prints of the institutions. Every institution is bound by these insignia. Call them logos, symbols, signs, visions, mission statements, anthems, mantras, or emblems, every institution has one. Every institution has the responsibility and the opportunity to inculcate in their members the core values that define who, what, and why they are in existence.
Collins and Porras write on the idea of core values, and by implication, the opportunity to excel:
“Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company. Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create discomfort to obliterate complacency — -and thereby stimulate change and improvement before the external world demands it.”
In short, opportunity is the capacity to increase productivity, performance, and profitability, within the parameters of the core values of any institution. Opportunity is not going to work everyday; rather, it is harnessing all the means and resources to attain the goals of the institution. This involves putting all hands on deck and all heads together. [Refer to my article on the 21 Institutions Men and Women Create]
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
When opportunity is present, the goal is to make everyone a participant in the core values of the institution in order to achieve the ultimate purpose for which the institutions exist. And that is not a regimented or routinized work. It is a mental and ideological commitment to excellence on all sides, employees as well as employers, leaders and followers, citizens and the governments, family members, and organizational members or associates, which involves continuous engagement and sharing of opportunities and resources of all kinds.
In sum, communication occupies center stage in the inculcation and indoctrination of all members to the core values of any institution. In and through communication it presents and imposes opportunities for the institutions and their members to work to excel by the methods and strategies to sharing their visions that make institutions what they are. Every institution in humanity communicates for the inherent objectives of performing towards excellence in all they do; and they explore and exploit every opportunities to do so. Individuals should do the same in all circumstances in every opportunities.
CALL TO ACTION
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