Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taking Advantage of Opportunity

Last Friday, I spent a lovely morning with seven at-risk high school students as part of a mentoring program for a board of directors I serve on. At first, they were hesitant to open up and see if I was going to be another one of those adults who tells them to study hard, stay in school, and knock off that drinking. Naturally, that was a message I wanted to convey, but I am realistic enough to know that I work in the hood and see this lifestyle daily, but for them it's all they know, so I eased my approach and tried to be funny and tell them my story.

Sure, my growing up years were remarkably different than those of these teenagers. I had the opportunity to go away to college, then later to attend grad school. I had parents who encouraged me to be whatever I wanted...even though my mom was convinced that I'd make a great teacher or dental hygienist (I've since learned that many moms encourage dental hygiene as a career...what's up with that?!). Still, in spite of that, and even though my parents didn't go to college, they told me I could do anything, so long as I turned the tv off while I was studying. ; )

Years later, I know what an AMAZING gift it was to grow up with my parents. Having said that, I believe a key to my career success has been my ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arose. I assume that my parent's support allowed me to do that.

In each job I've had since college graduation, I've been able to parlay that into something new and bigger...not because I'm the sharpest tool in the shed, but because I work hard, have a good attitude, and in some cases, have fallen into opportunity. This is what I communicated to the students.

They started to loosen up and ask questions...even the kid with four spikes through his chin and the 17 year old girl who was married. I asked them what they wanted to do someday. One of the slacker boys said he wanted to be a tattoo artist; I showed excitement for his artistic ability and asked how he was going to make his dreams happen. It's sad to say, but I truly feel like I may have been one of the first adults in his life to do that.

My message for the students was about opportunity...being ready and available, having a good attitude and a strong work ethic. Taking advantage of opportunity is still working out for me, too. I was TOTALLY exhausted last week, but on Thursday night, got a call from a photographer friend asking me to shoot a concert on Friday night.

I didn't shoot as well as I would have liked to, and in spite of the fact that I was totally exhausted, I had an AMAZING night at the Staples Center, with three other photographers at the sound booth shooting none other than the glorious Michael Buble...and you know how I love me some Michael Buble!

It's good to know that practicing what I preached to those kids on Friday morning had such an awesome result on Friday night!

Are YOU taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way or are you missing them due to fear, apathy, exhaustion, or busyness?

Sweet Shot Day I'm sharing this post with my friends at Sweet Shot Tuesday, because dang it, shooting Michael Buble was pretty sweet!!!


Scraps said...

That is so awesome! Both your attitude in talking to those kids and being able to shoot a Michael Buble concert!

Jen said...

That is fantastic and sad. I want to hug all those kids who have no great role models or parents in their lives. It really is true that you can do anything and I wish they could believe it.

oh, and how AMAZING to photograph Michael Buble. WOW.

jsbh said...

such a heart-warming post - good for you getting out and listening and helping! LITB

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

I love it! I think it's wonderful that you took the time to inspire those kids--and to listen to them.
And how awesome that you got to work a Michael Buble concert!

My dad was a preacher who always said that the minute you say something from the pulpit, life will throw something into your path to test you and see if you'll practice what you preached. Sounds like the same thing happened to you. :-)

Melissa Stover said...

no kidding. great shots!

Susan said...

Wow, how neat!!! Those are some awesome pictures too.

You are such a blessing!

50centlove said...


Darcy @ m3b said...

I know you posted those pics just for me. 'Cause you know I lurve him.

Wasn't he just as beautiful, i mean talented in person??? *hearthrob*

suzieQ said...

Hey girl, I don't have a blog, but I am a teacher. This is something that all of us can do for kids. I was just talking with my daughter and both my kids are finally finishing up college. Neither of them did it the conventional way, but they did it...we all have to try to encourage our young people and mentor them to be the best they can be. Some of them didn't have the advantages that some of us did. Sometimes, that advantage is just encouragement, a kind word and loving advice that they can be something.
You never know whose life you can change...isn't that awesome?