Today we often hear about the stagnating economy in which incomes are not making gains and recent college graduates have trouble finding jobs. Many people argue that there is a lack of opportunities today, but I have to wonder if our attitudes towards life and work are really to blame.
My great-great grandparents were pioneers on the plains of North Dakota. They came out to the frontier with nothing and built a house out of sod. That was their version of opportunity - a house made of dirt without running water or electricity. I can’t think of anyone I know today that would consider that an opportunity, yet my predecessors saw an opportunity to build a life for themselves and decedents through backbreaking labor, while lacking any technological frills we take for granted.
When I hear that there are less jobs for college graduates these days, to me it appears people are blaming a faceless system. The blame seems to be either the college is not doing enough to bring employer job searches to campus or the government isn’t doing enough to generate jobs. I wonder where the pioneering spirit has gone. Surely the pioneers didn’t complain about not being handed an opportunity, but rather they were ready to leave family and friends permanently to chase down their dream of self-reliance, no matter how much discomfort it would bring to their lives.
I had a teacher that once told me that opportunity favors the prepared mind. That has always stuck with me because it makes so much sense. If a person is never looking for opportunity, how will they ever discover it? I think people too easily blame others or society for lack of opportunity, when in fact personal success is not a right, but something only earned through hard work and perseverance. Simply put, we make our own opportunities in life, and only through rare coincidence is an opportunity readily handed to you with a bow on top.
There is an infinite number of opportunities waiting for any individual to capitalize on. The only way to truly turn your back on opportunity is to say “no.” Many people feel like they have to say no because of limitations, but what they forget is limitations don’t apply to all people equally. Often by working with others to overcome limitations, we discover new opportunities. People that find ways to overcome limitations are the modern pioneers, and they will benefit by playing in a field with less competition.
Opportunity favors the prepared mind, which means we must conditions ourselves to accept opportunity. Before rejecting a new idea or accepting our limitations, it is beneficial to take a step back and ask if there is possibly a path we haven’t thought of yet. Trying a new path, although uncomfortable and frustrating at times, is how opportunity is born. To relate this to finance, sometimes superior customer service isn’t telling the member what is and isn’t possible, but going out of your way to get the member what they need even if it isn’t a standard service offered.
We think of pioneers belonging to a certain time period and set of circumstances, but the truth is they still exist today. They are inventing things like the Internet and wireless devices. Modern pioneers are building telescopes to study the edge of the known universe or applying new technologies to agriculture. Often pioneers in finance are those that can reform old processes, and they understand that the old ways of doing things are now broken or growing obsolete. Becoming an agent of change will be the way forward.
How will you find a way to be a pioneer in your job the next time a member asks for a service your credit union doesn’t readily offer?