In my preceding post, gumpportunity was defined as taking advantage of an unexpected or unforeseen opportunity that arises by being in the right place at the right time.
Gumpportunities follow these simple patterns:
- You are in the right place at the right time.
- You’ve done necessary and valuable hard work beforehand.
- You have both the wisdom and gumption to grab it and run with it.
Today, let’s lay out 5 keys to help you recognize and seize gumpportunties when they appear in front of you … just like when the feather floats out of the sky and lands at the feet of Forrest Gump … and he picks it up!
5 Keys to Help You Recognize and Seize Gumpportunties
1. Know yourself
When Forrest picked up the feather, he was a man 100% comfortable with himself. He knew what was important and what wasn’t.
When it came to money Forrest shared, “Mama said there’s only so much fortune a man really needs … and the rest is just for showing off”.
Regarding living in the moment: “You got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that’s what my running was all about.”
And when it came to caring for loved ones Forrest told the sick Jenny, “You could come home with me. Jenny, you and little Forrest could come stay at my house in Greenbow. I’ll take care of you if you’re sick.”
Gumpportunities come in as many variations as there are different species of birds and feathers. According to Birding.com, there are 10,000 species of birds in the world. So knowing what variety of opportunity you’re looking for will help you spot the gumpportunity when it flies by. With a little practice, you’ll be able to spot the rarest opportunity because it,s specific to you and your needs.
Forrest knew who he was, what was important to him, and what his priorities in life were. In order to recognize a gumpportunity as being the right one for you, you first need to know yourself.
Do you know what’s most important to you?
2. Have a Plan
Forrest wasn’t much of a planner himself. But he was receptive to others and succeeded by following their plans.
For example, when Forrest played football at the University of Alabama, it was the coach’s plan and other players who told him when to run. Forrest was an ideal team player.
Or how about the way Forrest listened to Bubba and learned all about the shrimpin’ business. It was Bubba’s plan but Forrest was the one who followed through and executed the plan.
And finally, it was Forrest’s plan to move Jenny and Little Forrest back home to Greenbow … even if Jenny was the one who initiated the process and planted the seeds of the idea in Forrest’s mind.
Whether you’re a planner or one who can follow someone else’s plan is not as important as having a plan to follow. When you have a plan an unexpected opportunity that is both congruent with and complimentary to your plan can be easily recognized and seized. When you’re following a plan and trying to achieve your goal, what often happens? ‘Out of the blue clear sky’ a new option appears … a gumpportunity.
Are you a good planner? Or are you more comfortable following the plans of others? Most importantly, are you following a plan?
OK, you know who you are and you have a plan. Next you have to set priorities. You can’t do everything that needs doing all at once, you’ve gotta decide … what is most important? What is the first step? What things will you act on first and foremost, and what things will just have to wait for later?
In my own life I’ve been fast-tracking into the speaking world. Hire a coach, pick some topics, write content, develop marketing materials, build a website, market myself non-stop, give presentations, re-focus topics, pick a lane, more marketing, re-craft presentation, give more presentations, start a blog, join professional groups, more marketing, get more professional help, refocus marketing materials, upgrade presentation skills, find professional partners, write a book, more marketing, re-vamp website, etc., etc.
When you’ve taken the time to set priorities, you’ll know the first steps of your plan, and the subsequent steps to your plan, and the difference between them. You’ll know what lesser priorities are kept simmering on the back burner. So when that gumpportunity comes floating by, even though it may not be part of your top priorities, you’ll recognize it as solution to the back burner item. It wasn’t what you were focused on, but it’s still a key component of the grand scheme. Suddenly it’s in front of you … move it from the back burner to the front burner! Item accomplished because of previous prioritization and big picture awareness. A gumpportunity recognized and seized. Very nifty!
Have you taken the time to clarify your priorities so you’ll recognize a gumppportunity when it appears?
The feather falls out of the sky and lands at your feet. The gumpportunity suddenly appears. It doesn’t do you any good if you don’t bend over and pick it up. Hello! Are you paying attention? If you just let it lay on the ground it’s an opportunity lost.
Using Forrest as the example for action is easy. Forrest Gump was a man of action. Forrest Gump was a doer. Forrest Gump was fearless when it came to trying and doing new things. Forrest Gump was focused on accomplishing whatever it was he was doing.
Remember when the drill sergeant bellowed, “GUMP! Why did you put that weapon together so quickly, Gump” And Forrest simply replied, “You told me to, Drill Sergeant.”
Or how about when in Vietnam Forrest drops Lt. Dan on the riverbank and starts to return for Bubba, Lt. Dan screams, “Gump, you stay here, goddammit! That’s an order!” Forrest turns and starts to run back into the jungle exclaiming, “I gotta find Bubba!” … now that’s action!
Action without knowing yourself, having a plan, and having your priorities in order is meaningless motion. And if you have a plan, know yourself and know your priorities but fail to act … it’s pointless planning. Or as Seth Godin says you fear shipping!
Are you a pointless planner or full of meaningless motion? Or are you a person of action?
5. Make Adjustments
Planning and prioritizing may be key to recognizing gumpportunities, but staying rigid and unyielding in these plans will prevent the flexibility necessary to act.
Imagine trying to hike a mountain trail the same way you walk down a city sidewalk. Your step and pace on the sidewalk are very consistent, the same step-after-step. In the mountains you have to adjust for changes in terrain, elevation, avoiding rocks, fallen trees and other obstacles. Each and every step is a necessary adjustment, variance and re-calculation, while the city-sidewalk is walking on auto-pilot with only occasional adjustments for other pedestrians or curbs. Proceeding on auto-pilot is safe in some situations but very dangerous in others.
Forrest never planned to be a shrimp boat captain. He was going to be the first mate. He thought Bubba’s original plan was a fine idea. Forrest adjusted his plan out of necessity.
Here’s how he explained it to Lt. Dan, “I made me a promise to Bubba in Vietnam, that as soon as the war was over, we’d go in partners. He’d be the captain of the shrimpin’ boat and I’d be his first mate. But now that he’s dead, that means that I gotta be the captain.”
Making continuous adjustments to opportunities seized will produce greater success than strict adherence to an opportunity in its raw form.
Do you frequently make adjustments? Are you flexible by nature?
Forrest Gump wasn’t known as a deep thinker or planner. He was simply a man of action. And that action brought about lots of gumpportunities in his life. In each case, he recognized and seized opportunities just like when he picked up the feather that landed at his feet.
What opportunity do you recognize that’s laying at your feet but you’re afraid to pick up? What’s keeping you from seizing it? Seizing it today?
Next Blog Title: Being Gracious – Gump-style (part 1)
Next Blog Date: November 15, 2010