“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about why you shouldn’t start a nonprofit. My point in the piece was that too often, people have great intentions for social good in their community, but there are broader implications for those who want to start a charity to consider.
Sure enough, a couple of days ago I received a call from someone asking my thoughts about starting a nonprofit. However, this article isn’t about the pros and cons of establishing that type of business.
It’s about knowing what’s on the other side of the door.
What do I mean by that?
As I listened to the call, this person told me that he was considering leaving his job as a senior executive in business, but he had several concerns. He talked about his worries that he had the expertise to do what he wanted to do. He also spoke about his fears that he would be leaving his wife in a high-pressure position to be the primary breadwinner in the family. He would not earn the money he was making now, and he didn’t even know if this venture would be successful. Indeed, he would end up earning significantly less money than he was currently making.
Ultimately, this person’s decision was his decision, and I never gave him an answer to his question of what he should do. It wasn’t for me to decide. That was a decision between him and his wife.
But, I did ask him to keep a thought in his mind.
What’s Behind the Door?
I asked him to think about what was on the other side of the door if he moved into the nonprofit sector, and then I asked him to consider what was on the other side of another door if he stayed in place.
The exercise is one I’ve used, and if you haven’t used it for yourself or in your team management, it might be something you consider.
When you are at an inflection point in your life, and you’re facing a significant decision, looking at what you believe will be behind the door is a great way to gain understanding. It helps you project into the future. The more vivid the picture, the better the exercise is in helping you make a decision.
The reality is that nothing is perfect. Everything comes with its opportunities and challenges. If you think that any path is the absolute ideal and will make your world supremely better, that’s not the way the world works. Everything takes time, and everything exacts a sacrifice. No path, no journey comes without a challenge.
However, by visualizing what’s behind the door and seeing what your world could look like, including considering the challenges that will likely come up along the way, will help you understand what door you want to open. It will help you get the clarity you need to make the best decision for you.
Next time you’re at a fork in the road, or someone you know is there, think about the door and what lies behind it.