Episode 18: Discerning Good Opportunities from the Right Opportunities

September 6, 2021



I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the most important things for you to learn how to discern, as both an entrepreneur and just a person living in our modern world: how do you know what’s a good opportunity vs. a “shiny” opportunity?

Everyone loves a good opportunity! But part of really elevating into your next level means discerning which opportunities are the right ones. Sometimes, they’re such great opportunities it would seem crazy to say no. Other times, it’s tough to decipher whether it’s something that would be a launching pad or ultimately an anchor. 

So today I’m talking to you about how to discern which opportunities are for you and which ones are not.

Let’s tap into it!


[4:05] Know Your Core Values 

If you have a rule book you play by, it makes decisions much easier. It alleviates the indecisiveness that so many of us feel when making decisions. What are your values that you LIVE by? Not the ones you pay lip service to or think are honorable, but the ones you want to pin your decisions up against to make the choices that are in alignment with who you want to be?

One of my values is to live by the Golden Rule as much as possible, and that drives so many of my decisions like this one: Someone reached out to me wanting to hire me for my high level consulting. This was an ideal client and someone I’d love to work with, also an incredible income opportunity. But they divulged that they were in contract with a peer of mine and they were going to break the contract to work with me instead. And the person they were working with had delivered on their promises throughout their time together. This was just a change of heart on the part of the client. 

Nothing about it was illegal or even necessarily immoral. This kind of stuff happens all the time in business. But I took some time to think about how I would want to be treated if the tables were turned. I’d want that person to point the client back to me to finish out the contract and commitment. I’d appreciate that call for loyalty, which is also a core value of mine. My core values made my choice easy. It was painful to walk away from the opportunity, but it was clean cut in the decision making process.

Another one of my top core values is freedom. This core value is right up there with the golden rule. Holding things in the light of freedom helps me, my family, our company, make so many decisions. I’ve been in talks with a company I’ve admired and respected for over a decade. They are literally world class. If I said their name, you would know them well and salivate over them as much as I do. This experience is making it easier for me to know if I’m moving in the right direction or if I’m moving away from it, because often working with a company of this magnitude requires giving up some freedom in exchange for something: money, notoriety. 

But, as valuable as all of those things are, they don’t ever outweigh my core value of freedom. So when we get down to the actual nitty gritty of contracts, I’ll be able to make an easy decision because I know where I stand in my personal values. Let your core values be the keyhole through which you fit your opportunities.

[9:33] Know Your Priorities

Different seasons call for different priorities. Sometimes that season is long: Til death do us part, my marriage will always be a top priority. That’s a,God willing, long season. This stage of parenthood we’re in where we have young kids, being very accessible and present and engaged with my children is a very high priority. But I know this season is short in the grand scheme of things. As I navigate my autoimmune disease and these sometimes brutal health struggles, my health is a higher priority than it may be if I were in more of a maintenance mode. But other things are priorities, in certain order, in my life, too.

We’ve opened the doors and are operating our new company, Luminary Leadership. That has a lot of my focus, as it should. And we have specific goals around that area of our world. Because of that, when opportunities come my way, if they aren’t in alignment with our focuses in this season, they are a “No.” This is incredibly challenging sometimes, because it’s easy to try and squeeze things into this season because you know it’s in alignment with your values, so you would have said “Hell yes!” at another time, but that’s why it’s so critical to have your priorities outlined, because values alone are not enough. 

In the past, I didn’t have these rules around discerning opportunities; if it was a good opportunity by the vanity metrics that most people consider first, I, too, considered it worth my time no matter the season or no matter my values. I took consulting opportunities with companies and people who are vastly in conflict with my values. I said “Yes” to speaking gigs that took me on the road even though I should have been in a season of rest or presence with my kids.

No matter how good the opportunity, it’s important to remember that if it’s not in alignment with you, your values, and your priorities: if you take it, it will not feel right. It will not lead you where you thought it would lead.

[13:41] Understand the Greater Vision

This one is important and overlooked at times in the decision making process, especially when something shiny shows up. Where were you headed in the first place? Is this opportunity a stepping stone on the path towards the dream, or is it a detour? Will it speed up or guide you towards the vision, or will it slow you down? You cast a vision for your life and for your business and that vision deserves to be honored, even when something pretty cool shows up to the party.

Did you ever have one of those friends that would remain non-committal in making plans so they could wait until the last minute to see if something better would come along? I did. And those friends were never fooling me. I knew I wasn’t the first choice. I knew what they were doing. And it hurt me. And eventually, I felt that hurt enough times those friends were no longer for me.

Don’t do that to your vision. Don’t be so non-committal to something you said you wanted so badly that you jump at any exciting opportunity that comes your way even if it is basically turning on that vision. Because you know what will happen? If you’re not loyal to the vision, it won’t be loyal to you. If you’re not willing to make the tough choices in pursuit of something worthwhile, you can’t act surprised when it doesn’t pan out. That opportunity that’s shiny and fun and popular? If it’s not helping you get to the greater vision, it’s taking you away from it. It will be fleeting and you will be bummed that you didn’t take the time to truly discern that choice. What do you really want – like really really want? Will this choice serve that desire?

[16:58] Understand the Greater Mission

This is different from your vision. Your vision is what you want. Your greater mission is what you’re called to. It’s why you were put on this earth. It’s your unique impact fingerprint. And to deny it is to deny yourself. And as much as you get to choose your values, priorities and vision, your greater mission kind of chooses you.

If this one feels fuzzy, that’s okay. Most people never discover – at least not with confidence – what their greater mission is. They wouldn’t be able to name it. But your business should have a greater mission beyond just what you do and how to you do it – it’s WHY you do it. What wrong are you righting with your work? Each opportunity or decision that lands on your desk should be evaluated for its role in the greater mission. That doesn’t mean it has to be in direct relation to your mission. But it should never take you off track of it. I read something this morning and had to pass it on to you Author Grace Bonney on how to get better at saying “No”:

“The biggest fear most of us have with learning to say “No” is that we will miss an opportunity. An opportunity that would have catapulted us to success, or that might never come again. And most of the time, that simply isn’t true. I’ve found that the first part of learning to say no is learning to accept that offers and opportunities are merely an indication that you’re on the right path—not that you’ve arrived at a final destination you can never find again.

If someone is choosing you, it means you’re doing something right. And that is the biggest opportunity you can receive—the chance to recognize that your hard work is paying off. And if you continue to do good work, those opportunities will continue—and improve—over time.”

Don’t forget: if it’s for you, it’s for you.


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