Beware distractions, disguised as opportunities.
If you are good at what you do and pursuing your career, opportunities will come your way. As your success grows, surprisingly, the real challenge might not be finding opportunities so much as choosing between them.
Become skilled at recognizing the difference between an opportunity and a distraction. An opportunity is not really an opportunity if it deviates from your goals, even when it is lucrative and looks great. And by the way, an opportunity that’s really a distraction almost always looks great. It will seem like an easy way to make money, and it will be similar to what you do. I will excite you at first. However, it will deviate in at least one important way. Here’s what I mean…
As staff songwriter for Sony Music Publishing I was offered the opportunity to record with one of the most famous producers in Nashville, I was all but guaranteed a major record deal and millions in album sales. What he wanted me to do was… children’s music. He had seen the sales that “The Wiggles” and “Raffi” were doing and thought I could duplicate or exceed that success. Was that tempting? Well, yeah. It meant fame, fortune and acclaim.
I said no.
And now? I have the best career on the planet doing exactly what I love.
Why? Once I looked past the excitement I realized, it’s not what I do. Children’s music is great, but honestly, I would rarely have looked forward to writing, recording and performing children’s music. This amazing opportunity was really a distraction disguised as an opportunity.
So, how do you discern between distractions and opportunities?
1. Consider this opportunity and project ahead to it’s outcome. Is this outcome what you really want? It might be that the activity is great but the outcome is not what you want or need. Or vice versa, the outcome – money, fame, prestige – is great but you don’t really like the activity.
2. Ask yourself, how is this opportunity like what you want really want, and how is it different? In the example above, it was many things I love: music, recording, performance, creativity. However, it meant playing children’s music, living children’s music all the time. Even if it meant international fame I had no desire.
3. Forget the money for a moment, is this something you’d do for free? Not that there aren’t some things worth doing briefly for the money but real opportunities are things you like, and would do in some form just for free.
4. Have the courage to say no. If it’s not right, say no. You do no one a favor by being less than true to yourself.
Every moment you spend on a distraction is a moment you’re NOT spending on your goals and what your most want to do.
Virtuosos are fantastic at recognizing distractions even when they look great. And… at saying, “NO.”