Phillip Hubbell en Directors and Executives, Writers, Project Managers Project Manager 17/5/2016 · 2 min de lectura · +900

Opportunity Doesn't Always Knock


Out here on the job hunt, I have been doing a lot of thinking about how the world of opportunity works. Mostly I’ve considered how it works related to how I view things. We are encouraged to look past our own needs by today’s society and so that’s what we pretend to do. We are told that the modern world is different from the way things were in the past, but I’m not so sure. We have all these great technologies but they are all recent developments in the big picture. Sometimes I think we are just cavemen playing with matches.

 When I look into the written history of mankind, what stands out are major events like wars, natural catastrophes and famines. History reads like an adventure novel. Real life really isn’t like that. The vast majority of people live their entire lives where the mundane is the rule. Most people throughout history lived all of their lives on the same plot of ground and never experienced anything other than the creeping despair of an ordinary life.

 Depending on where you were born, life may be easier or harder and the culture may be lenient or harsh. Some societies are ruled by decree while others are more democratic. Personal freedom may be looked upon favorably or you may live in a place where force and order are destined to be your lot in life. All of that is just circumstance. Life itself is lived from an internal point of view. It is just the individual struggling to get by.

 We spend the beginning of our lives waiting for some event to happen that will stand out from the rest and we spend the end of our lives looking back for any glimmer of what was better than the present. It is our imagination and capacity for deluding ourselves that saves the day. Without those very human attributes, the bitter grind of our day-to-day plodding would have us actively searching out high places from which to fling ourselves.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” said Henry David Thoreau.

This is a famous quote. However, it is taken from a much less famous letter. The entire quote is:

“Do not catalog me upon “the mass of men”. For the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

They wait, and hope, and pray that someday they will…

Sadly, that’s about it. They wait, forgetting that nothing comes to those that wait. They hope, forgetting that hope requires action. And they pray, forgetting that prayer requires preparation.

And so they wait. Clenching their heavy hearts, overwhelmed by life…suffering quietly. After all, no one else must know.”

I have always felt that the letter had a greater impact than the quote. The letter puts the quote into context and explains where Thoreau was coming from. It gives us a little insight into how he viewed the world around him. Man is short sighted for the most part and we take the whole of our experience and reduce it to manageable snippets of cleverness. We do this even if it loses meaning in the process.

It is the waiting and the secrecy that breeds the despair. We work constantly at getting our minds off the topic of the here and now. We cling to hope. We wish for relief, love, companionship, better weather, excitement or perhaps something not clearly defined that lies just out of our sight. We know it must be there because this can’t be all there is.

Except that’s not true. This is everything there is. This is the common. This is the mundane. This is the tedious life everlasting and it demands nothing of us. The trick is to recognize the dawning of the idea that we have to demand something from our lives. It is in the active not the passive that our lives find meaning. We wait for opportunity to knock when we should meet him on the way up the path to our door. Better still, we should find where he lives, hunt him down and kick in his door.

Phillip J Hubbell is a writer living the dream in the American Midwest. He is also a project manager looking for that elusive opportunity to work.


I have learn that Opportunities come from challenges around us. A pessimist sees the glass as half empty; an optimist sees the glass as half full; and while the two are arguing the opportunist picked up the glass and drank the water.

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Phillip Hubbell 4/4/2017 · #6

Thought I would float this one to the top since there have been many new bees and followers since I published it.

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Phillip Hubbell 17/5/2016 · #5

#4 @Gert Scholtz ..thank you for your kind words. I took your advice and lifted this from my book, "Standing Still"

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Gert Scholtz 17/5/2016 · #4

@Phillip Hubbell What a wise and superbly written piece Phillip! I read it three times.

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Brian McKenzie 17/5/2016 · #3

I do love the idea of kicking in doors to make opportunity - it is nearly my personal brand idiom. It doesn't make friends with those that stand in line and follow the rules and believe heavily in 'polite society'. (almost by definition - the home of HR)

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Insightful article and great statement "The trick is to recognize the dawning of the idea that we have to demand something from our lives." Sometimes we have to make it happen.

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Jeffrey Boxer 17/5/2016 · #1

I'd never read the quote in its entirety! You're right, it is much more powerful than just the first line. Thank you for sharing!

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