I love video games (it’s one of my few addictions) and one of the ways games become exciting is the concept of a power-up. A power-up can be something that you earn (such as completing a task in a short amount of time) or that you find out of pure luck (looking in a container). Power-ups can give you special powers, send you to a bonus level or let you jump ahead so that you’re further along in the game. To add to the challenge of a game, many power-ups disappear after a few seconds or if you move off the screen, so you need to get to them right away — many gamers risk their lives (within the game) to get certain power-ups.

Just as a power-up can help you win in a video game, it can also help you win in real life. I real life, we call power-ups “opportunities” (or in some cases, “chances of a lifetime” if they are really big). And just power-ups in exist all over the digital world of a video game, opportunities can be anywhere – you just need to know how to spot them and where to look. Here are some instances where you might come across a power-up in real life:

  • A conversation with a stranger at the train station or in a waiting room or similar situation creates a lead for you that helps you get closer to your goal.
  • You are selected to get in front of an important client or have face time with a higher-up at work.
  • You come across a deal of a lifetime where you can by your supplies at a fraction of the normal cost.
  • You are given the chance to be interviewed on TV or the radio.

Going back to the video game analogy, when you play a new game, you may not be familiar with all the things within the game that you can interact with. You may notice a flower on the screen and think it’s just a part of the background, but then you touch it and it gives you super powers. Reading the game’s manual might clue you in as to which items are power up items, but again to make the game more interesting, the programmer may have added some special power ups that aren’t documented in the manual. This is similar to real life as your biggest opportunities often come from the most unexpected places — often they come from our problems and challenges.

Your definition of an opportunity depends on your situation. I listed some obvious opportunities above, but I’ve also found opportunities in conversations with people on the treadmill next to me at the gym, striking up a conversation with someone at a book store and even while waiting for public transportation.

Take a few minutes to list out at least ten of the places that you typically find opportunities – you can use my examples if they work for you. Then take about five to ten minutes to list out at least ten more opportunities that have come from unusual places, regardless of whether or not you seized them. Doing this exercise will condition you to better notice opportunities when they present themselves.

The Power of Power-Ups
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