‘Everything is an Opportunity’

A few months ago, I adopted a new, personal slogan—and it is my motto for 2017: “Everything is an opportunity”. Think of it as an adaptation of old adage: “Make your own luck”, which I Googled today out of curiosity. There’s some good advice from several of the top hits, somewhat syncing with my own thinking, that would be good new year reading for you: That phrase as headline, Psychology Today; “13 Proven Ways to Make Your Own Luck“, Inc.; and “10 Proven Ways to Make Your Own Luck“, Entrepreneur.

How interesting: Business publication stories top search results for the “luck” phrase; other than PT. I see the sense in that for someone trying to build something. My motto differs in expanse: It is a lifestyle, a way of thinking. I don’t mean to sound like some living-in-lala-land motivational speaker. As a journalist, my cynicism about everything flows deep through my psyche. But so does my optimism, based on experience. 

It’s funny things that stick with you. Before the Daniel Craig era, my favorite James Bond movie was “The Spy Who Loved Me“, which I watched in Boston some time in 1978. One line bore into my synapses, like a revelation to my 18 year-old brain. During an exchange with Bond, played by Roger Moore, Major Anya Amasova (actress Barbara Bach) tells him: “It’s very important—to have a positive mental attitude”. Yup. I got, and adopted, it as a personal philosophy.

“Everything is an opportunity” extends from “positive mental attitude” and my longest-held, but retired, personal motto: “Why not?” Meaning: The question is asked when faced with obstacles. Taking opportunity intertwines with another core, personal attitude: Act. Don’t hesitate.

I’ll give a simple example of the motto in action. In July and August 2016, I underwent corrective eye surgery that meant maybe no longer needing to wear glasses. For the transition between operations and the weeks beyond, I planned to wear my existing Oliver Peoples Gregory Peck frames with planos—meaning no-prescription lenses. I bought the eyewear in May 2015 from The UnOptical, in San Diego’s Hillcrest district. But, 14 months later, I chose to get the blanks at the local LensCrafters, which lab could make them in about an hour. Ugh, the tech snapped the frames at the bridge of the nose. The photo doesn’t deceive; Gregory Peck is a thick, sturdy frame, which worked well for obscuring my mega-prescription lenses. I looked at the two pieces in disbelief.

The store manager offered a free pair of glasses and lenses to compensate for the loss—planos to start and prescription should one be needed following the second surgery.  LensCrafters and Oliver Peoples are sister companies, so you would think that the optician would stock the other’s frames. Nope. I picked out a pair of Giorgio Armani, not for the brand but because of the rounded style. But I wanted to wear the old pair!

Days later, I moseyed into UnOptical with my sob story. Surely the Oliver Peoples were defective and some free or discounted replacement could be arranged. While no mindreader, I swear that I could hear the optical clerk laughing behind her perfectly poised poker face. She asked about insurance, to which I expressed having none for eyewear. She checked on her Mac, nevertheless, discovering that my insurer offered coverage; promoted for kids but also extended to adults. Lenses would cost $80 copay, and I could get frames for a 35-percent discount. Same deal as LensCrafters: Planos to start, later replaced by prescription, if needed.

Days earlier, I asked my wife to try on the Giorgio Armani eyeglasses; for fun, no particularly intention. They flattered her face, and she thought so, too. I wondered: Insurance discount at The UnOptical opened options, if everyone would be willing participants.  I negotiated with LensCrafters for the free pair to instead go to Anne, who was wearing five year-old eyeglasses. For reasonable additional cost, she also got prescription sunglasses.

Everything is an opportunity. Annie really needed new specs, but would never want to spend big bucks for another set. Free, or nearly so, and flattering frames, is a whole other matter. Meanwhile, I got to stick with the Oliver Peoples brand—but not Gregory Peck. I expected to need a fairly light prescription following surgery recovery, which is the case, opening opportunity to choose a lighter frame in my preferred color: Tortoiseshell—what Oliver Peoples calls Semi-Matte Dark Mahogany. (That said, had the color been available six months ago for Gregory Peck, I likely would have stayed wth the iconic frame. Tortoise is available now, sigh. But, hey, change is good.)

I can’t express how aghast was my reaction when the LensCrafters clerk told me that my frames were broken and couldn’t be replaced by the shop in the same brand. But the accident turned into an opportunity, by looking for what could be rather than bogging down in what was or couldn’t be. Anger, or resentment, is poison. Why not look for opportunity, instead?

As the new year starts and I wear the O’Malley frames—all day long even though they’re only necessary for reading and personal space proximity—I think: “Hell, yeah, everything is an opportunity”.