Several years ago I was taking part in an executive mentoring program and part of the process was to have several executives sit on a panel while members of the mentor program shot questions across the bow to them. I was in awe of the wisdom and capacity for knowledge these men and women had, as well as their humbleness. However there was one common thread throughout the panel that caught my attention. The leaders spoke to the fact that they weren’t any more special than anyone else in the room, but underlined the fact that they had just been in the right place at the right time. That was their big take-away for the group! No bragging about wisdom, education, connections or accomplishments. Just simply they were ordinary people who were in the right place when opportunity came knocking.

This realization not only reminded me of the importance of remaining humble but there were also big shining lights around the fact that since we don’t know when that “right place” and “right time” will be, we must always be on stage! In other words we should always treat every person and situation as if that moment determines our future.

When we approach people with the idea in our mind that an opportunity may lie within each conversation as well as other interactions, it should change our behavior. Have you ever gone as far to think that the Supervisor in a different department might have a spouse who is a hiring manager at a company you have wanted to work? Perhaps that young grocery clerk’s parent is the CEO of a company looking for some new talent? Or the Administrative Assistant who is always bugging you for your travel claim; she is in the know when it comes to opportunity! We just never know who we are talking to and the secret opportunity that lies beneath the surface.

Here are a few ideas on how to treat every person and situation as if it could hold that next step of your career in that defining moment.



Whether you are on the job, helping someone move or volunteering at your local church, work with all your might. You never know, but you may just be in the presence of a good lead. When he or she sees your commitment to the task and working with excellence it just might be the thing that triggers their thoughts to recommend you for an opportunity.



No one wants to hire nor recommend a complainer. Don’t talk about co-workers, acquaintances or your job negatively. While people may seem to be taking part in your conversation and feeling sorry for your situation, they also may be thinking that you are coming across as a complainer. Be positive and don’t dump your garbage in public.  Employers want people who display positive attitudes in the worst of situations both in and out of the workplace.



Have you ever been in the presence of a bragger? Someone that all they want to do is talk about themselves and what they have done? We all have and it is not any fun. If you take interest in other people this displays people skills that are often lacking in today’s workplace. Prospective hiring managers or even peers will not want to bring on someone who takes up 90% of a conversation talking about themselves. Trust me, people will notice when you are TRULY interested in them and that is the kind of person everyone wants to be around! 



Every day people are beat down. Bosses, media, friends and sometimes-family members can wear us out. The last thing anyone wants is to welcome into their lives another person who is going to take them down even further. No matter what a person’s situation might be or what they are sharing, don’t try to fix it unless they ask. People just want someone to listen and encourage them. They need that special person who sees hope and the positive side of tough situations. Be that person and doors will open that you never knew were there.



Not long ago I met someone who told me they were in between jobs and was looking. The individual had a good education with an experienced background. However there was one thing that bothered me. We were in a professional setting where business clothes or at the least jeans and a collared shirt were appropriate, but they had on a t-shirt and bathing suit! It was oddly strange and wrong. I don’t judge people for what they wear; however the thought did occur to me that if being in a professional environment warranted a bathing suit to that individual, what was their attitude in a professional environment? I’d hate to think I recommended them for an interview and they showed up in flip-flops!

I love being casual; I have my jeans with holes in them and love wearing them! But, there is a time and place. Give what you’re putting on a little thought. We just never know when that opportunity will come knocking!


What do you do to ensure you’re ready when opportunity comes knocking?

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