The start of many a well known saying. But like so many sayings, what is the substance behind it. We’ve all no doubt been told at some point to ‘take an opportunity’ to do something, or that we ‘don’t want to miss an opportunity’. How do we go about turning these phrases into something more meaningful and something that genuinely creates opportunity.
Perhaps we need to go back to go forwards. Where do opportunities come from? How do they present themselves? Sometimes we hear stories of where opportunities seemingly come from nowhere. Like a mythical creature, they magically appear in front of us and then we are expected to take them. In other times, they are sold to us like a silver bullet or magic wand – usually therefore presented to us by someone else, maybe because they have something to gain as a result. Think about all of those pointless and frustrating ad campaigns selling us a once in a lifetime opportunity that appears in every commercial break for an entire ITV film!
Both of these scenarios potentially create a binary feeling. Like we’ve either missed or taken the opportunity like it is the golden ticket to a brighter future. I’m not sure this is ever really the case.
As a deputy head, I was given the ‘opportunity’ to be part of an aspiring Headteacher programme that was run by the local authority. It was the first time it had been run, and to be honest, was not the opportunity it had been dressed up to be. There was however one silver lining. Though the course, all of us were given a coach and I was very fortunate to be given an amazing one. Having undertaken training in the past and seen the benefits this was a real positive for the course. We met on various occasions throughout the year and the discussions we had really did help.
There was one thing that came up in one of our sessions that had a profound effect on me and has stuck with me ever since. We were talking about opportunities and I was talking about how I had been lucky to be given opportunities at different times. I remember saying to my coach that I was lucky ‘to be in the right place at the right time’. Perhaps stepping out of the coaching role, he replied ‘right place, right time, right person’.
That’s when I saw this and realised. Opportunities don’t just appear, we make them happen, particularly when we are brave enough to take the proactive first step.
Many have spoken about the opportunity we have now to rethink our education system. If we are ever going to do it, now is the time. But it won’t be talking about it that does it. It will be for school teachers, leaders, parents and the whole community to take action to make the opportunity a reality. We need to, collectively and with a clear voice, beat down the door.