windows of opportunity

Not all opportunities have windows.  Some opportunities hang in space and time, waiting to be taken advantage of.  Others have windows that close, after which the opportunity is gone.  Life is chocked full of surprises because of the abundance of both kinds.  Opportunities are plans, moments, events, or decisions which we grab and make our own.  Those without windows float in front of us until we bring them into focus and apprehend them.  Although those opportunities with windows come in all sizes and shapes, they don’t float.

We can arrange our lives without being bothered by windows.  Opportunity windows often hide themselves in the form of discomfort.  Most of us though, learn to construct opportunity windows.  If we have plans, we usually have windows.

I was thinking of a small window yesterday when I was planning the morning prior to my return journey from South America back to New York.  The flight was just after noon and I had plenty of time after waking up, to pack, enjoy leisure coffee time, and exercise prior to heading to the airport.  However the coffee-time segment started stretching with good conversation and eating into the exercise window.  If I hadn’t cut the conversation, the window of opportunity for exercise before a long day of travel would have closed.

Taking it a step further, when we exercise we create a window of opportunity for efficient recovery.  Exercise is the purposeful damaging of muscle fibers and our repair mechanism builds them back slightly stronger than before.  But there is a window of opportunity for optimal nourishment replenishment after exercise.  If we miss that window for optimal recovery, the window closes and the opportunity is gone.

Another traveling window opportunity example:  The other day, I had a flight from Medellin to Panama for a connection to Lima.  When you travel by air you are given windows of opportunity.  There is a window to check in, and another one to get to the gate.  The connection in Panama was tight, only 35 minutes, but the airline sold it as a valid connection.  After the plane in Medellin was  boarded and we continued to sit there while the time for takeoff came and went, I could see the window for the connecting flight slowly disappear.  The captain finally announced that two passengers who had checked in did not make the gate window so the airline had to locate their checked luggage from the belly of the plane before we could depart.  Two people missed the flight window which ended up closing my connection window.  (Not sure why an airlines must delay a flight for more than 100 passengers when someone misses their window.  Because something dangerous might be in the bags?  I don’t think so because my bags many times have ended up on a different flight.  Bags miss their windows all the time, just like people.)  Although missing the original flight seemingly screwed up my plans, it provided an opportunity to connect online and grab another one.

The mathematical formula for calculating our ability to catch the open window is relational to the degree of importance at the time.  Ignoring the long-range aspects of the formula can get us trapped by the shut window.  Whether it’s a relationship that ended, a job offer not taken, or a missed special event, if our focus is on the opportunity lost then we prevent ourselves from seeing other open windows, especially those hiding in plain sight.  The relational formula works in reverse; the more we regret not taking advantage of an opportunity window now closed, the more we shield ourselves from seeing those that are open.

Point is, we create opportunity windows.  The more the better.  Now it’s time for me to get my lard-ass out of this lounge chair and go create a few.

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