Seeing Opportunity Differently


Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki recommends in his bestselling book about creating financial freedom, “Work to learn, don’t work for money.” He also says that while most people might say the economy after September 11th was terrible because all the stock prices fell, if we look at the situation differently, it was a unique time to “buy low”, and invest for the day when prices would inevitably rise again, and thus, another opportunity to “sell high”, the ideal sets of circumstances for investing, and making money. We just have to train ourselves to be able to see circumstances differently, and search for opportunity where none is apparent – at first.

An argument with our partner is an opportunity to practice communication skills.

A rainy Saturday when we planned a picnic allows us to be creative, and picnic in the living room under a fort of blankets, instead.

An entrepreneur I met recently tried at first to sell scooters, but realized quickly everybody was selling scooters. His business was in trouble, but rather than stubbornly stick to his original plan and intention, he thought differently, and realized no one was selling the parts for the scooters – which he starting selling at a 500% profit at prices still reasonable for the consumer. This profitable and much needed market was not apparent – at first. In fact, the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ is a mix of the symbols for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’.



I’d say the twist to Mr. Kiyosaki’s opinion, “Work to learn, not for money” for jobseekers may be to remember that sometimes we might take a job for what we can learn in that position, company, or field, even if what we earn, or our job title, or the industry might not be what we had in mind initially.

Our “because I have to pay the bills jobs” can sometimes lead to opportunities we wouldn’t have imagined and didn’t intend would come out of them. I once took a job as a Telephone Sales Representative in a call center for a European travel company. The only things appealing about this job to me was that I wanted to go to Europe someday soon, and I needed money and they paid – only slightly – more than my other job.

I hated it. Repeating the same information all day long. The headset and phone cord made me feel like a dog on a leash. I had to talk myself into going to work, I called in sick way more than I should have, I had to have inspirational quotes and pictures all over my cubicle walls to try to get me through my days.

Then one day, they had a trainer job open. I’d taught various topics to various groups before, and by now, I knew the job well. I sold my transferable skills in teaching to the manager, gave a creative presentation, and got the job. The company and call center environment wasn’t ideal to me in any way, but the experience, and what I learned, has been worth it in the years since then. And it’s helped me get more training and teaching positions in other settings and content areas, not to mention the cheap trip to Europe I did eventually take! I couldn’t see that job as much of an opportunity at the time, but it turned out to be a great one, eventually.

A friend of mine who has great management and leadership skills took a sales job for awhile to add those very transferable skills to her repertoire (and resume, when she chooses to showcase them), and make herself more well rounded and marketable. Although she doesn’t want to do another sales job, she at least has more choices in the job market because she has honed and grown those skills. It’s just like what I say to teens that are at risk of dropping out or not doing well enough in school to get into college: Education gives you options. You may use it, you may not, but if you stick with it, then it’s there if you DO want to do something that requires that degree (or those skills).

Just like I did with getting the trainer job, learning more skills, or using old transferable skills can also help you in a career change, too (change of fields or companies). A client of mine is interested in finding a part-time job in a financial institution because she had become interested in learning about the financial and investing worlds. The plan is for her to take her customer service skills and transfer them into a field in which she otherwise had no experience, get her foot in the door, and see what she can learn (and where she can go beyond entry level, if she is so inclined.)

So, perhaps thinking more broadly or creatively about the types of jobs you apply for may be in order. Or maybe you are disappointed or upset about feeling fearful and like you ‘have to take SOMETHING’ to pay the bills when it’s not what you’ve been trying to manifest (the dream job!) at all . . . maybe we can reframe the opportunities in front of us. Maybe we can figure out a way to look at this ‘crisis’, or job, or company differently, and therefore open ourselves to seeing some new opportunity there, if we must start earning money soon.

In the same spirit, we can look at all we are learning through a challenging job search – it can really be an education about patience; perseverance; money management; having, creating, maintaining positive attitudes; trusting in our spiritual source, whatever we may call that source; and the list goes on and on. Maybe we learn something about our working styles, given so much flexibility in how we structure our days and job search work, or maybe we think we’d prefer not to work, but having no work, we learn how much we value steady income, camaraderie of co-workers, or being part of a productive team. The possibilities are endless, and the learning, well, it never ends, does it?

“Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”
–Winston Churchill