Five Lessons to Help You Create Opportunities Out of Nothing

Which is the most important commodity of modern life? To me, it is electricity. Who was the father of electricity? To me, it was Michael Faraday. Apart from electricity, Faraday discovered several organic compounds including benzene; he was the first to liquify a permanent gas; and he achieved all of this without any formal education. Here is a little story about how he became a prominent scientist out of literally nothing.

Born in suburbs of London to a blacksmith, Michael Faraday was too poor to be formally educated.  When he was fourteen, he started working as an apprentice to a book binder. At the binder’s shop, his job was to bind books; however, the young boy would read every book that came to him for binding and found a special interest in the science of electricity.

As he turned twenty, Faraday got an opportunity to attend lectures of Sir Humphry Davy—the inventor of laughing gas and the most eminent British chemist of his time. He was fascinated by the lectures and took ample notes as Davy addressed. Subsequently, he compiled a three hundred pages book and sent it to Davy, who was fairly impressed by the youngster’s zeal towards science. 

Not long afterwards, upon recommendation of one of his distinguished customers, Michael Faraday was able to join Sir Humphry Davy as an assistant. The rest, as they say, is history. Faraday’s life is a perfect example of creating an opportunity when it didn’t seem to exist. Here are a few tips for you to imitate him and create opportunities for yourself:

Lesson One: Identify Your Passion

The first step in creating an opportunity for you is to identify what kind of opportunities you would like to have. In simple words, you must identify your passion. If there is an activity that makes you forget your lunch, it may well be your passion. You may have numerous passions, but it is important to narrow down to a few; it is important to choose a niche for you.

Lesson Two: Recognize Your Opportunities

Faraday’s passion was science, so he recognized a learning opportunity in the books he was supposed to bind. He converted the book binder’s shop into an alma mater that imparted him the scientific knowledge that no school could offer. Sometimes, opportunities exist but we fail to see them. Following the footsteps of Michael Faraday, keep your eyes open to recognize the opportunities related to your passions.

Lesson Three: Express Your Passion

You might be passionate about something; you may have acquired the background knowledge as well. But it is not enough. It is equally important to express your passion to appropriate people. Faraday had a passion for learning science, and he expressed his knowledge to Humphry Davy who was quite impressed and subsequently accepted him as an assistant. Had Faraday not sent his notebook to Davy, he could have missed the opportunity.

Lesson Four: Use Your References Positively

Through Faraday was just an assistant at the book binder’s shop, some of his customers were influential aristocrats. Upon recommendation of one such distinguished customer, Faraday was able to get his job with Humphry Davy. It is not much different from the way we use LinkedIn recommendations these days. Impartial recommendations or references are not a bad tool for enhancing your chances; use them positively and fairly.

Lesson Five: Do Not Expect Immediate Results

While some people do identify their passions and recognize related opportunities, they fail to recognize that success takes time. Don’t forget that it too Faraday seven years of book reading at binder’s shop before being accepted as Davy’s assistant. You may be brilliant at something but still you would need perseverance and persistence to reach the summit; and if you are not ready to persevere, don’t even look for an opportunity. Perseverance is harsh but favorable.

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