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Archive for the tag “opportunity”

The curse of a leap year

29_02_2016 Google DoodleThere is this question that will often set your mind in motion: “what would you do if you had an extra day to live?”

Every four years, we get that extra day. An additional 24 hours to do pretty much anything we want to do.

So, how do you spend it?

Do you stay in bed a little longer? Do you try to get more work done? Do you enjoy more time with friends? Do you exercise? Do you laugh more?

Do you experience what that extra day is there for? To realise how lucky you are to have survived so far and to be strong and healthy enough to continue even further? To be able to surround yourself with people you love, doing what you enjoy, and relishing every single moment?

Some say a leap year with that strange extra day is a curse because it is so rare. But, like everything in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.

And however you spend your day(s) is also a matter of choice.

Just remember that whatever you choose to do, do it with all your heart.

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The coincidental start

Blue umbrella rainIt was raining on that Tuesday morning. But as she prepared to go out, she remembered that her umbrella had been broken by the previous day’s whirling storm. So she had to run to the little store around the corner which she was certain sold umbrellas, because she had her eye set on one particular one every time she passed by – it was large, blue with white polka dots and a curving gold ornate handle. That was the one she was going to buy.

She splattered out into the rain, and ran to the store as fast as she could, trying not to fall head first into any puddle on her way. As she reached for the door handle, raising her right foot ready to step in, the door swung open and she was inadvertently pulled in. A tall gentleman expressed his sincere apologies and rushed out. He had obviously just brought a long black umbrella, which he now put into use. She hadn’t managed to fully retain the features of his face, though. She was still a bit shocked by her own entrance into the shop. What she hadn’t noticed, however, was that her long blue scarf had swished across the nostrils of the man leaving the store. It had the perfume of wild lilies.

As she got ready to pay for the merchandise she happily purchased, she saw that the little old man running the store was reading a newspaper. He had left the page open at the career vacancies section and her eyes fell onto a bold, black-framed ad calling for an external associate for a large tech company. She asked the old man if she could take the ad, and he gladly ripped out the page and gave it to her. On the back of that page was an entire feature on how technology is ruining the life of small children. Yet, technology was the very reason she didn’t read the paper anymore – news was faster and more current online.

She ran back home to send her CV and details for the position. She knew it was silly, but she spent the next couple of hours waiting.

In the meantime, the rain stopped.

But the minute she decided to finally go to the supermarket, her phone rang. It was the tech company, inviting her for an interview the next day. They were in haste to fill the position, as it was an urgent contract.

It was not raining the next day, but she took the umbrella with her anyway. She had to ask for directions twice before finding the building’s location, and realized she was running circles around it once she finally got to the door. She was escorted to the manager’s office. When his secretary opened his door to usher her in, she saw the surprise taking over his face. He was stirred by the smell of wild lilies that infiltrated his office. A smile found its way onto his otherwise strict appearance and she felt relieved. But she had not recognized the stranger from the umbrella store. Her glance fell instead onto his computer screen. He was reading an article that asked, “Is there such a thing as a coincidence? Or is it a carefully devised cosmic plan that has some hidden purpose we don’t understand? Do things really happen for a reason? Or are we the ones who give reason to the things that happen?

Interesting question, she thought, and smiled as she recognized his black umbrella from the previous day, standing tall by his desk. She looked up and saw him gazing at her, mesmerized by the turn of events. “Well this is an interesting start,” he laughed.

A worthy meal

champagne-and-oystersHe spent his last £30 on a plate of oysters and a glass of champagne.

He didn’t mind that he would now be broke. It was worth it. The oysters were exquisite and the champagne was bubbly and fruity. Not that he had anything to compare them to.

He had just arrived in the country he now called home. He was one of the thousands who believed fleeing from the only home you know was the single chance you had for a tomorrow. The future was all he would think about when he stepped his trembling body into that rocking boat. He didn’t know where he was heading to, but looking back at the fire burning his village, he knew forward was the only way he could go.

Life is full of surprises, they say. For when he reached the shore, the informal “welcome committee” consisted of one of his cousins who had arrived a couple of years ago. Following a reunion that alternated between tears and jumping jacks of joy, he soon found a new home, even if just a temporary one.

However, finding work was not easy. There were so many unskilled workers asking for jobs, the competition was so great, that it all came down to who would accept less.

His first job interview failed because he couldn’t understand what the employer was saying.

His second because he couldn’t respond fast enough.

His third because he did not give adequate replies.

His fourth because his reply to the question “where do you see yourself in five years” was “alive”.

His fifth because he was too old for the job.

His sixth because he had no experience for it.

His seventh because they had already hired the person before him.

He needed money somehow. He needed food. His stomach was already grumbling and he could not continue to live off his cousin forever. It was not proper. All he had left was £30, which he insisted that he would soon pay back no matter how much his cousin refused. His meals had consisted of bread, cheese and apples, as little as he could eat a day in order to save the cash. But he was now drained. He needed a proper meal.

Autumn had settled in and the brown crispy leaves crackled under his feet as he tottered pensively along the central avenue. The rain began to fall, slowly at first, caressing his stress-sweated face, and then rapidly like a torrent attempting to cleanse out the pain of his soul all at once. He stood still in the street, as people all around him rushed for shelter. He had lived through worse. A little rain would do no harm. On the contrary, it was welcome. The avenues began to fill with water like empty tanks fill up. The hundreds of fallen leaves had blocked the gutters, tapping all the water into the streets. There was no outlet for the water that was now raging from the dark sky.

He looked around and saw cars struggling to move ahead, pedestrians getting soaked. And there was so much noise – the honking, the screaming, the thunders, the rain…

He looked down at his feet, which were by now in a puddle of rainwater mixed with black-trampled-on-leaves. Right in front of him was a blocked gutter. If he could just remove the dirt, he would manage to alleviate some of the gushing water and perhaps restore calm. He took a fallen branch from a nearby tree and began to clear out the gutter. He then proceeded to the next one further down, and the next one. By the time he reached the top of the avenue where all the fancy and elitist restaurants where, the rain had diminished to a drizzle. Exhausted as he was, he stopped to check the result of his feat. The roads had mostly cleared from the rain, everyone seemed less annoyed, and it was quieter now.

The smell of wet leaves reminded him of how hungry he was. He stepped into the restaurant in front of him and ordered a royal lunch. He didn’t care people looked at him disapprovingly. In his one month there, he had done more for them than they had even thought of doing for him. It was time to live in the moment. When he saw a municipal worker approaching him with an applauding smile on his face, that was when he thought that just maybe, that moment would give something back.

The story was an entry in the Guardian Masterclasses blog competition.

Business is not pleasure

facebook-for-businessIn all our lives we seem to struggle to find something that we love to do. That we enjoy investing our time and energy in. And that will reward us for it. Something that suits us and pleases us both metaphorically and literally, as it is common knowledge that satisfaction alone cannot pay the bills.

Yet it is very few people who have managed to make a living out of their hobby. Feeling passionate about what you do is one thing. But basing your entire earnings on it is a whole different story.

When you enter the business side of negotiations, you realize that no matter how much you love what you do, it all becomes so commercialized and trivial. It is complicated trying to get a revenue out of what you so far have only seen as a delightful hobby.

You never truly realize what you’re in for, until you’re ankle deep. But when you’re already in the middle of the ocean, you have to swim. No matter the sharks that surround you.

The business transactions involved in making a living out of your dreams often drowns out the fun of what you do, but it all depends on who you work with.

The arduous nature of it all – the bureaucracy, the scamming, the deals – is that in the end you might dislike the very thing that got your heart racing in the first place.

You’ll get excited, thrilled, confused, upset, angry, irritated.

And in the end you’ll just realize you’ve spend an incredible amount of time thinking about inconsiderate people that weren’t even worth it.

There is a reason why the saying goes “don’t mix business with pleasure”.

Doing what you love doesn’t always mean you’ll get a financial reward from it.

So the most you can do, is try to enjoy what you do.

And then have enough time to dedicate to your true passion.

Who knows, maybe one day the right opportunity will come along at the right time, with the right people and the right circumstances to make a living out of it too.

 

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