When opportunity knocks, do you open the door or complain about the noise? Opportunity is often a matter of perception. In our vision of the world is the image of ourselves. It may seem like some people have all the luck, which is often not a random act, but a time when preparation and opportunity come together.

Although opportunity is often a result of what we create, we must first recognize it to thus tap into it. The world is full of abundance and while water may be everywhere, so many fish in the sea are dying of thirst. Missed opportunities are obvious to the masses, for once a possibility manifests, reality requires mere observation of what might have been.

To recognize opportunity one must be a possibility thinker and also have the ability to predict patterns and trends. For example, at a time when most people are losing their life’s savings in the stock market, my son’s guidance gave me returns that no stock broker has ever accomplished for me. It is simply his ability to predict trends, observe patterns, and change his thinking as the economy shifts from a bull to a bear market. Crisis is opportunity in disguise but only for those who define it as such.

For example, George Soros, a hedge fund manager whose team of analysts made him millions during the bear market of the 70’s, fired his staff in the early 80’s when he predicted a bull market. The reason was because he feared they would not change their thinking. The choices that create wealth in a bear market are not the same strategies required for success in a bull market. In a bull market, when stocks fall one buys with the assumption they will go up. In a bear market, one must resist the temptation and break free of conditioned responses and behavior that was previously rewarded.
Recognizing opportunity is dependent upon your ability to scan the environment, for opportunities are everywhere, but we need to recognize them, see the potential, create a strategy, an action plan, and then muster the courage to take the risks necessary to move it forward.

However, it may not be as much a factor of what you do, but what you must not do. One of the reasons people don’t see opportunity when it is painted on a billboard and screaming louder than thunder is because of limited thinking and cerebral myopia. Often times, it may be due to negativity, but it may also be due to simply not being visionary and seeing the big picture. Unfortunately, creativity is often stifled by our education system. Corporations tend to be risk adverse, and yet calculated risk taking is essential for opportunities created by innovation. In other words, when you find yourself in deep water, become a diver!

Learning to dive has become crucial to my survival. While left brain people are often too cautious and are snagged by analysis paralysis, right brain people can tend to dive into deep water before learning how to swim. Being an off-the-chart right brain optimist, everything appears to be an opportunity when, in fact, it may be a serious derailment. For example, I bought a dozen pay phones although given fair warning not to do so. From the crooks who sold them to me, referred to as the Cuban Mafia, to the installer who collected his fees but never did the job, it was proposed residual income that had a tainted residue.

When I moved to North Carolina in 1997, being a realtor seemed to require simply taking orders, so, of course, I became a licensed realtor. There have been dozens of MLMs or multi-level marketing opportunities. While the concept is great, and many of the products were useful, once again it was another distraction from my doing what was meaningful and purposeful for me.

A former husband’s embezzlement was also disguised as opportunity as was a stock broker who, because I took action, is now selling ice cream instead. No, it’s not your neighborhood Dilly Bar Man! Then there were the opportunities that got washed away by hurricane Fran, but were sold to me by a realtor who had previously been imprisoned on felony charges. More recently I loaned money to a private investor because he guaranteed very competitive interest rates and even backed up the loan with real estate that, wouldn’t you know, went into foreclosure. The point I am making is that PROMISES ARE NOT OPPORTUNITIES.

Because of my random lust for opportunity, I squandered not only years of my life but also my life’s savings chasing the next promised opportunity. I had lost millions of hard-earned dollars. No sugar daddies and no winning the lottery! The more I lost, the more fear and desperation sought opportunity that was promised by every slick sales person I encountered. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but not when it is music that makes you want to dance.
Upon moving to North Carolina and leaving behind a very lucrative psychotherapy practice, I had built a lovely home which is referred to as Edie’s Mansion on HGTV or the Home and Garden channel. It must be their big hit as they have been showing it for years! It is still not sold. And although I could be living in the mansion, since I am paying the mortgage but the renter tends to forget to put the check in the mail, I am often sleeping on my modest 19-foot boat while renting out my cottage on lovely Lake Norman as it helps pay the four mortgages on properties that total over two million. Heck, Suzy Orman slept in her car shortly before her breakthrough so it is probably a good omen.
Tired of waiting for the market to kick into high gear, I realized that I had to create my own opportunity independent of outside circumstances or the economic environment. I learned that opportunity is about choice. It is making a decision to bash on regardless!

As defined by my son Tory, opportunity is the chance to make progress toward a stated goal. That was the problem. I either had too many goals or I was not clear on which ones were authentic. Were my goals allowing me to be true to myself?

Possibilities are only opportunities if they push you gently down the path toward your committed goals and desires. You must sort out and be selective. If you can’t say “no” to possibilities that are not in sync with your instincts, your core genius or soul’s code, you are simply out of focus. You either get busy living, or you get busy dying. Some degree of skepticism can be a virtue if it brings balance to your decision making. Ask yourself:

? What gives my life meaning?
? What makes me happy?
? How do I choose to serve and make a difference?

I probably should have read some of my own books. In Why Cats Don’t Bark Unleash Your PowerZone – Intuitive Intelligence: The Other IQ, I encourage people to trust their gut guidance to discover and manifest their core genius which is revealed between the ages of about 3-7. As a result of that book and another I had written, Winning! How Winners Think – What Champions Do, I discovered that all champions interviewed had a flash of their greatness at a young age. The reason Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Jack Canfield, Barbara Streisand, Michael Jordan and many others had achieved exceptional success was because they not only recognized opportunity but were determined to make a difference.

Sometimes opportunity whispers softly in our ear, but we have to listen. Other times it’s a loud crash such as disastrous, life-changing events, but again, we have to take action. My question is, “When opportunity knocks, do you open the door or complain about the noise? “ Do you recognize it? Do you take action and create it? Opportunity is not a passive, but an action verb that only you can exercise. Waiting for opportunity is like waiting for the sun to shine on a cloudy day.
Tired of waiting for the market to kick into high gear, I realized that I had to create my own opportunities independent of outside circumstances or the economic environment. I learned that opportunity is about choice. It is making a decision to bash on regardless!

Being inspired by two of my books and my grandchildren, I had an idea of how I could change the way the world thinks, one mind at a time. In the midst of total chaos and financial challenges, I Believe I Can Fly, the first in a series of children’s character building programs, took flight in the fall of 2009. At the same time I released a book, What Most Builders Won’t Tell Women (or Men) – 101 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Your Next House. I had built several times and had both good and bad builders. The last one went bankrupt for the second time and had used my “draws” to cover the expenses for his spec houses. He thus dragged out the building of my personal residence to a period of nearly three years. I spent years and thousands more correcting his mistakes and negligence. A couple of years ago the “aha” moment came when I realized I could recover my losses. By writing a book on building tips I could help others learn from my mistakes. Now, we don’t have a contract yet, but we do intend to get an order from Home Depot and/or Lowes for a million books. Now, that would certainly offset my losses!

Opportunities stop only when we stop thinking…BIG. Since I also encountered serious losses from a stock broker, I am now working on another book, What Most Financial Advisors Won’t Tell Women (or Men). Again, the intention is not to put a black mark on any profession but to prevent consumers from being snagged by those who don’t belong in any respectable profession in the first place. The momentum continues with a complete series including What Most Lawyers Won’t Tell Women (or Men), What Most Doctors Won’t Tell Women (or Men) and so forth. The point I am making is that we create our own opportunities by a positive mind state and belief system sustained by an undying determination and desire to dodge defeat. The choice is yours. Choice is a freedom that only you can relinquish, if you choose to do so. As J.L. Moreno the father of psychodrama once proclaimed, “The greatest power in our being is that we choose our thoughts. I choose, therefore I am free.”

Frequently people have messed up potential opportunities because of not understanding how good decisions are made. For example, life coaches often recommend that you follow your bliss or find your passion. “Do what you love doing and the money will follow” has long been the mantra of many. However, the money may not follow when a logical procedure is not followed.

Capitalizing on opportunity requires a strategic plan but also the ability to execute positive action at the right time. The Path to Self Discovery is a color-coded model that provides a sequence in making decisions that prevents regrets and assures results.

1. White (Snow) – Get the hard, cold facts.
2. Green( Grass) – Set goals for growth.
3. Black (Night) – Identify obstacles.
4. Yellow (Sun) – Solutions to the problems.
5. Red (Fire) – Connect with your passion and intuition to know how your choices feel .
6. Blue (Sky) – The CEO or overall seer of the process to making good decisions.

So many good ideas and opportunities are lost or not sustained because of not following this sequence. For example, when you leap, the net may not always be there. Once you identify your passion, due diligence is essential to get the hard, cold facts because even though you may be clear on your goals, without knowing the obstacles and possible problems, you could waste your life’s savings on a dream ending up as a nightmare. By identifying and thus removing the obstacles, your problems can be solved and solutions are attained. Before moving forward, do a gut check on how your decision checks out with your heart. In fact, there is an old saying, if it comes from your head, check it out with your heart before you take action, and if it comes from your heart, run it through your head for an objective check and balance to emotional choices. Following this sequence when making decisions will transform possibilities into true opportunities that promise to increase your ROI – Return On Intelligence, and also your joy.


Edie Raether, known as the Bully Buster, is an international speaker, coach and bestselling author of seven books including Stop Bullying Now. A behavioral psychology expert and family therapist, Edie has also been a college professor and talk show host with ABC. Visit Edie at www.raether.com and www.stopbullyingwithedie.com. Contact her at edie@raether.com or (704) 658-8997.