Opportunity (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

A few weeks ago, I was offered a huge opportunity. Without going into the details, someone I really admire (Let’s call him Mr. Big) asked me for a favor which was crazy and topsy turvy enough but the whole deal was sweetened by the fact a) that doing the favor would actually hugely benefit me and b) it was something I enjoyed doing anyway. So I’d get to strengthen my relationship with Mr. Big which had all sorts of potential networking and career advantages, give my own career a boost and all while doing something I would do for fun anyway. Triple Win!

When I got the email, I was determined to do the favor as fast as possible and also to really go above and beyond to strengthen my connection with Mr. Big. This was going to be huge for me. I was so excited.

And it only just occurred to me today that Mr. Big’s deadline was two weeks ago… and I never got it to him. I never even replied to his email because, in my head, I was going to just send my work with the reply. Not only did I not do the favor he asked, he probably thought I was blowing him off since I never even answered.

I blew it.

That huge opportunity. All the benefits to me and my career. Done. Gone. Poof.

The ship as sailed and I’m left standing on the shore feeling like a Grade A Idiot. And you know someone else probably swooped in and did it for him and now they are reaping the benefits that are supposed to be mine, damn it!

While the why of my missing it isn’t very interesting (baby + massive project for my company + many late nights of work with little to no sleep = I’m lucky if I remember my name these days let alone anything else. I just plain forgot about it.), the aftermath of a screw up like this is. Because we’ve all been in situations like this and it’s sort of impossible not to feel pretty awful. You made a mistake and it cost you. There’s no one else to blame.

There’s lots of people out there who can just shrug and laugh it off but I’ve never been good at that. I’m hard on myself and a big screw up like this can stick with me for weeks. It’s like there’s this little gargoyle on my shoulder, weighing me down, heckling everything I do. “Yeah, sure,” it says, “you did accomplished x, y and z. But remember when you blew that opportunity with Mr. Big? You’ll never get a chance like that again!” No matter what I accomplish, there’s always that specter of my last screw up haunting me, making me doubt myself, sure I’ll screw up again.

But every time this happens, because it’s always going to keep happening as I am only human and make mistakes, I have to re-learn the same simple lesson: Opportunity doesn’t really knock only once. It’s more like a revolving door and you can jump in at any point as long as you time it right. While that unique opportunity may have come and gone, another is always around the bend.

You just have to make sure to learn from your mistake and actually seize hold of it the next time it comes around. And if it doesn’t come around again? Make your own luck. Opportunities are found much more often than they just fall into your lap.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just figured out the perfect way to apologize to Mr. Big. If I play this right, it may end up being an even bigger opportunity than the original one.

What mistakes have you made that you could just kick yourself for? Did you ever get a second chance at it?