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  • James McNeil

Missed opportunities, gift wrapped ones, and obstacles; what do they have in common?

Working in an outbound call center has taught me quite a few things. One of the lessons I’ve picked up is about getting frustrated. Currently, I work for an IT trade school that helps students earn certifications as well as providing several other benefits. Every day, I call people who have been to the website to express an interest in working in IT. Most of these calls are not answered. In fact, if I have ten percent of my calls answered, I consider it to be a successful day.

However, the ninety percent can be frustrating. I’ll admit it. I’m calling someone who has been to the website and expressed an interest in knowing more. But they’re not answering. I can either leave a message or try another time, and when I have a lot of these calls in a row, it can be draining to the motivation.


Yesterday on the job, I had an epiphany. Each potential student I call is an opportunity. If they don’t answer, that opportunity just isn’t ready yet. If they say they’re not interested (which happens from time to time), then the opportunity just isn’t for them. There’s nothing wrong with either of these.

Yesterday, I renewed my focus on one simple fact. Rather than focus on the opportunities I don’t have, I need to focus on the opportunities I do have. There are people who answer the phone and are in fact interested in pursuing a career in IT. When I do get to talk to someone, I focus directly on that person, and help them. I don’t need to worry about the opportunities I don’t have when I’m focused on the one in front of me.

Likewise, I also need to remember that these opportunities aren’t always gift wrapped. It’s amazing when they are, but sometimes they look like obstacles. They’re in disguise, and it’s their best disguise. An obstacle can cause you to become discouraged, but when you realize it’s an opportunity, you can more easily overcome it. Once you do, you can see the opportunity behind the obstacle.

This applies to much more than my job in a call center. It applies to your life as well. You will also face opportunities that are not ready or simply aren’t for you. Walk past those and focus on the ones that are for you. Some of these will be obvious as opportunities, but most of them will be cleverly disguised as obstacles.

Once you overcome those obstacles, you will see the opportunity behind it.


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