Missed Opportunities

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, and instead, these weeks seemed punctuated by tragedies. We’ve all been distressed by the news in Connecticut, but I had a personal tragedy at the same time. My grandmother passed away recently and I buried her, on a Tuesday. She grew up and lived until 90 in a small West Tennessee town.

And reflecting on her life can bring lessons for all of us. Let me explain …

As you can imagine, when my grandmother became an adult in the 1930s, there wasn’t much opportunity. Basically she had two jobs in her adult life. She spent 20 years sewing seams in a shirt factory, another 20 years working in a carburetor plant.

Once or twice, people came to her, offering opportunities that felt risky. She shied away. She preferred a steady, hourly wage.

Until her preference didn’t matter because macroeconomics played havoc with her future.

First, it became more profitable to make shirts overseas. So the shirt factory closed.

Then fuel injection became widespread, so the carburetor plant closed.

She was left without a pension and without much opportunity. Fortunately she had saved, she had family and friends to help her, and she had a good outlook, so she survived.

But it would be hard to say that she ever prospered.

But attending a funeral will always remind you that macroeconomics isn’t concerned about individual well-being, life doesn’t last, and opportunities have to be seized when they come.

If you drive across the country, you can see huge consequences of missed opportunity. In my county, there’s a town called Taylor. If you go and visit, you can see that in the 1950s, it was a prosperous, thriving town. Even today, it’s full of attractive buildings and parks. It was the center of cotton production and shipping for the county.

And there’s another town called Round Rock. In the 1950s, it consisted of a single street and a traffic light, and was mainly known for having a large round rock in a nearby river.

But one day, the Taylor city fathers decided they didn’t want the new Interstate highway coming through their town.

Instead, it went through Round Rock. Guess what happened?

Here are the statistics about the two towns today:

Taylor has 15,191 people and a median household income of $41,814, below the state and national averages. The school district is ranked #629 out of 953 Texas public schools.

Round Rock has 99,889 people and the median household income is $67, 042, well above the state and national averages. The school district is ranked #193 in the state.

Anyone wondering where I live?

I think this kind of thing happens all the time. Opportunities appear, some people embrace them, others shy away. Those who shy away often suffer. Reading a history of my county, it’s clear that the people of Taylor saw risk and disruption in the Interstate, while the citizens of Round Rock saw opportunity.

Perhaps this is a good time to remember that in the face of risk and worry, there’s always opportunity. They tend to go together.

Opportunity always has a risky flip side. Maybe that’s why I’m terrible at grabbing opportunities. I tend to think about them until they’ve gone away. Looking back, I can count dozens of opportunities I missed for lack of action. I even thought about being a copywriter for three years before acting. And now I’m kicking myself for being a fool because all I did was delay my success.

But I’m there now. I’m making a new life for myself because I did finally grab the opportunity in front of me.

I know that many of you are still wrestling with yourselves, worrying about becoming copywriters, not knowing where to start, feeling uncertain. Perhaps you’re coping with your own tragedies, family troubles, financial catastrophe, or unexpected setbacks.

Well, I’m here to reassure you. Change can happen if you become comfortable with risk. Change always feels risky, and becoming a copywriter, or solopreneur, feels positively dangerous.

I’m proof it can work out.

How can I help? What do you need from me to make the leap? What’s standing in your way or keeping you from grabbing what you can, when you can? What can I do to help you make this your year?

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Published: January 7, 2013

1 Response to “Missed Opportunities ”

  1. I too was reluctant. I recently went through a period of time when money for simple survival became a big issue. I was luck to have contacts that pulled me out of the depths. But, I don't want to just be pulled out, I want to do something I love and that will help other people. Fortunately, copywriting helps me put both of those things toether.

    Guest (Donna Glidewell)January 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

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