When I was a high school senior, applying for scholarships to help pay for the cost of college, I relied on a great many sources to tell me about scholarship opportunities. One such resource was a family member who told me about a small scholarship of $500 from a local organization. One of the things I found out about the scholarship was that unfortunately, many times this scholarship went unawarded because they didn’t receive any applicants. There could have been a variety of reasons for this. Perhaps they didn’t do enough marketing of the award. Perhaps the small amount of the award didn’t motivate students to apply. I looked at these small awards much differently. Five hundred dollars could pay for a semester or two of textbooks.
Fast forward to my first “real” job. I was an admissions counselor at a university. Part of my job was to not only recruit and evaluate students, but to advise them on various resources to pay for college. When visiting high schools, one of the things I liked to add to my presentations was my own experience with applying to college. I told them about my own efforts in applying to scholarships.
In addition to telling students how I missed out on the difference between a partial scholarship and a full scholarship because of 20 points on my SAT (missed opportunity based on lack of knowledge of the scholarship parameters); I also told them about other missed opportunities because of lack of action.
I would remark on how many scholarships across the country go unawarded, in part because the organizations sponsoring them never received any applicants. Therefore, if you apply to these scholarships, you may even get the award by default. But guess what? Default money still spends.
I find myself thinking back to this process of applying for scholarships, since recently I have been on the other side of a missed opportunity due to lack of action.
This year, I sponsored a mini-grant competition as part of the release of my first book: What Color Is Your Imagination? There would have been three grants awarded to members of the Head Start community, one each for a parent, a staff member and a grantee/delegate program. If you happened to view the Facebook live announcement of the winners, you know that there were only two awards – one for a parent and one for a program – because I received no applications for the staff grant. A missed opportunity for someone.
Now if I had received only one application for any of the grant categories, I would have been in a conundrum of deciding whether to award the grant to that one applicant; to make a “default” award, or make no award at all if the application wasn’t competitive. However, in receiving no applications, I didn’t even have that difficult decision.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” — Wayne Gretzky
My ambition is to publish three books in three years, for each of the three proprietary quality improvement themes I have been presenting for more than a decade. For so long, these books have been an opportunity I was missing. A shot I was not taking.
It is ironic that – in the midst of my finally taking my shot at authorship – I am now experiencing someone else not taking their shot. But there is still an opportunity for a second chance.
I’m giving folks a head’s up.
As I said, What Color Is Your Imagination? is the first of at least three books. I like to joke that after these three books, hopefully, I will have another idea for another book. We shall see.
The next book will be The Power of CARE™. As part of that book’s release in 2020, I will award three more mini grants. This time, the grants will be not just for the Head Start community, but for Community Action and other non-profit organizations as well; those who are in the “business” of caring. So, stay tuned. In early summer of 2020 I will announce the new grants and release the application process.
In the meantime, whether you are part of these non-profit communities or not, in 2020 be open to possibilities. In life, we tend to be more remorseful of the things we do not do, than the things we do. We regret our missed opportunities. Don’t miss out on the opportunities that are presented to you.
Take your shot!
Do you have your own examples of missed opportunities?