Choosing Opportunity Over Fear

Every new day presents us with choices. Our decisions usually involve small matters- should I go out to eat with coworkers or pack my lunch today? Should I bike or drive to work? Every so often, substantial opportunities invite themselves into our lives, and the implications of our choices grow more ambiguous. Is this house a smart investment? Should I accept this job offer or remain comfortable in my current position?

I have found that the amount of risk involved usually correlates with the size of the opportunity.

The greater and more exciting the occasion, the larger the opportunity cost. Mark Zuckerberg once stated, “In a world changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”. While there is a line between unstable and opportunistic, when making any sort of decision, it’s important to ask yourself, “Am I capitalizing on my opportunities?”

A few years ago I found myself at a mental crossroads. I was honored to receive a letter of acceptance to the Fuqua School of Business MBA Program at Duke University. While the message from the university was welcomed, it presented me with a difficult choice. The two-year, intensive curriculum was accompanied by a hefty opportunity cost. In addition to an expensive price tag, I would be pulled away from work and my family for extended periods of time.

I disagree with anyone who says that the right choice is always clear. Sometimes the right choice is completely obscured by uncertainty and lack of security. Other times, there are two right choices and depending on the moment and your current state of mind, one will emerge as the front runner.

Accepting opportunities demands sacrifice elsewhere, usually requiring you to forfeit a sense of security and knowledge of the future.

In reality, choice is never fully our own. However, taking voluntary chances helps us prepare for the times when life chooses for us. As the Economist article, “The Tyranny of Choice” explains, “Sometimes choosing is about learning to live without control.”

The opportunity to gain a first-class education and network with bright and experienced business leaders doesn’t often present itself. It was difficult to abandon my safe, predictable and enjoyable weekly schedule, but what can be gained from an opportunity such as this outweighs the inconvenience. After much consideration, I did end up pursuing my MBA and graduating with international experience in business strategy. I am so very glad that I did. Never pass up the opportunity to do something that rekindles old passion or ignites a new one. Don’t allow fear to discourage you from risk.

The opportunities are there, but it is up to you to welcome them into your life.