There are many of sayings about opportunity, such as “seize the opportunity”, “the early bird gets the worm” or “from crisis comes opportunity”. These phrases highlight the importance of seeking out and pouncing on opportunities whenever you can.
By seizing these positive opportunities you can bolster your work, friends, children and yourself and learn to always look ahead and no longer fear uncertainty or failure, but embrace it – dare to take a risk and you might reap a big reward.
However, the word “opportunist” has many negative connotations. It’s often used disparagingly to describe people who take advantage of circumstances for their own selfish benefit without a thought for ethics or whether they might hurt other people.
A common mistake people make is thinking that “seizing opportunity” with “being opportunistic” are the same thing, but the difference is extremely important.
Get out of your comfort zone
Thailand’s southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, have been plagued by insurgencies for almost 20 years. Hundreds of soldiers, police and civilians have died in shootings and bombings.
If you asked people in Bangkok to visit these areas, almost all of them would refuse. At first this seems to be a reasonable response – the statistics show the danger of being a victim of violence in those areas is not just 100 times or even 1,000 times riskier, but infinitely riskier.
Looking at things in this fearful way causes stagnation and a reluctance to do anything risky at all. But if you are leader of an organisation, or have good old friends there, or need to see what really happens on the ground – you must get out of your comfort zone.
Instead of asking your subordinates or friends to leave Yala and meet you in near-by city, you should actually go to Pattani and visit the holy Lim Kor Niew Shrine or Wat Chang Hai.
Stay overnight at the Imperial Hotel in Narathiwat province, or drive from Phuket to Yala via a local route, instead of bypassing the area for fear of an attack from insurgents. Then you will find that you are gaining acceptance, respect and loyalty by taking positive action in the real world.
No risk, no reward
Toon from Body Slam, a Thai Rock star, having no fear of insurgents, choose Yala and Betong as the start of his foundation’s two-month/2,000km south to north marathon – aimed at raising B700 million for 11 hospitals. This is one of the most unprecedented and inspirational examples of seizing positive opportunities in Thailand.
It will also undoubtedly change the perspective of many people, young and old alike. It is similar in spirit to what members of organisations like Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and Rotary International do when they selflessly dedicate their time help people – expecting nothing in return.
Seize the opportunity that’s in front of you
We often to see our children, friends or partners neglecting an opportunity to enter some competition, change jobs, or some other potentially positive opportunity – and it often causes them regret when they look back. But for some people, who rarely have an opportunity, their only option is to create one!
Thailand’s medical tourism boom started in parallel in Bangkok and Phuket. At Phuket International Hospital in 1998, we were challenged by the hospital director to “Go out and catch more fish in the Ocean instead of wasting time in the pond”.
If we had kept thinking negatively about whether the foreigners would come to Thailand to have major surgery, Thailand might not be the world-leading destination for life-transforming gender confirmation surgery and aesthetic plastic surgery that it is as today.
But there is one rule
No matter how good you are at seizing or creating opportunity there is one rule you should always follow. If the opportunity would hurt or damage anyone, you must abandon it. In other words, seize opportunity whenever you can, but in the process, don’t become an opportunist.
Dr Sanguan Kunaporn will be speaking on the theme of “Opportunity” at Inspired Phuketian on Sunday, Nov 26 at 6:30pm. Inspired Phuketian is a monthly series of talks hosted by Skye Lake Club. This event is proudly sponsored by The Phuket News and Live 89.5