Saturday, February 4, 2012

Missed Opportunities

When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity;
so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.

-- Acts 27:13

Several years ago, a group of centenarians responded to a survey that asked them what they would do differently if they could somehow re-live their past 100 years on earth. Although their answers differed somewhat, a common theme was evident: they would take more chances in life.

That's not only great advice for individuals like you and me, but it also makes sense in the business world. Silicon Valley high tech companies, for instance, are infamous for going from boom to bust because they can fail to recognize and make the most of opportunities. "What Could Have Been" might well be their motto.

Yahoo, for example, has long been one of the best-known destinations on the Web. And back in 2006, it offered to pay $1 billion for an upstart social media website called Facebook. The deal was a remarkable opportunity--but one with considerable risk. After all, established competitor My Space had more than 100 million members at the time and had sold a year earlier for only $500 million. The issue grew even more complicated when Yahoo ran into financial difficulty and its stock value tumbled nearly 20 percent. Yahoo reacted by cutting its offer to $800 million, which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ultimately rejected. The rest, as they say, is history. Today--depending on whose figures you believe--Facebook has more than 500 million users, or 1 in 13 people on earth. MySpace has shrunk to about 34 million users. And Yahoo has struggled with finance and leadership issues ever since.

Yahoo's failure to take a chance and pay top dollar for up-and-coming Facebook was literally history changing. Their executives and advisors had the data and could see the ingenious website's potential. But with their own company's finances in crisis, they decided to play it safe and essentially do nothing. And it cost them dearly.

Likewise, every one of us can reach personal crisis points--such as with negative relationships, alcohol or drugs--that demand immediate action. And with these crises comes the time when family members, neighbors and employers recognize the warning signs, which always find their way to the surface. It becomes a loud and unpleasant wake-up call--and a proclamation that the time for denials is finally over. But it's also a chance for a fresh start--one based on the abundant life God means for us. The issue then becomes whether or not we're willing to seize the opportunity and turn away from what's devastating us and ruining our future.

"Come now, and let's settle this," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow. If they are red as crimson, they will become like wool."

It's not easy. In fact, it takes considerable strength to accept responsibility for our actions without trying to justify them away. Unfortunately, we tend to let our pride stop us from doing the right thing. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you're facing a crisis, make the most of it. It might be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to turn your life around. And that's one opportunity you can't afford to miss.

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