You don’t have to answer when opportunity knocks

Executive coach tips from Regan Walsh


I’m celebrating a major win today.

All credit goes to my client, who turned down not one, but two incredibly rare and career-advancing opportunities that found her recently. Let me explain.

This client is a fifth-year attorney who specializes in intellectual property. She has a great gig at a firm, where she’s teamed up with another partner to develop an IP division from the ground up. That division, should she leave, would crumble.

But more importantly, she has so much to learn. She knows a few more years with this firm means more knowledge and exposure, eventually leading to her ideal next. So when these two offers came through, uninitiated by her, she had no trouble at all saying “no.”

That’s how it’s supposed to work, friends. No matter how sexy the offer, how big the pay, how high-profile the client, if the opportunity knocking doesn’t fit into your carefully considered core values, don’t answer.

This ability to filter out the non-essentials takes incredible discipline and courage, especially when opportunity finds you. Often times, it becomes that much harder to say “no” to something that you didn’t go looking for in the first place. If this job, this promotion, this client just appeared on your doorstep, would it be insane to politely decline?

Of course not.

Consider this: When I’m weeding out my closets, I have a tendency to let emotions have a say. I remember where I got something or who gave it to me, and I end up making little progress, throwing very few things away.

But when I ask myself, “Would you go to a store today and buy this?”, everything changes. I become more objective and honest about my things. I pitch, cleanse, and organize. It feels wonderful.

The same can be done when opportunity knocks. Ask yourself, “If this opportunity hadn’t found me, would I go looking for it right now?”

The answer should tell you everything you need to know.

And when that happens, I hope you’ll email me, so I can celebrate with you, too.

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