“When it is dark enough, you can see stars.”

Received this in a fortune cookie Friday night at our favorite asian restaurant in downtown New Haven (date night with my beautiful wife, Silvia).

After a small amount of research, I found it’s attributed to Charles Beard, one of the most influential American historians of the 20th century.

IMHO, the meaning of the quote is quite apparent — when life is going badly, look around, there are many opportunities to make it better.

Do you agree? Let’s say it’s true — Opportunities are all around us:

1. They are difficult to initially see — we must look hard for them.

Opportunities are not going to drive up to your door in a limousine to pick you up. In the beginning, it might feel there is a ‘darkness’ all around you. But if you begin to open your eyes, positive situations will start to appear.

Open your mind, be more positive, and hang around with more positive people. Don’t follow the news, point yourself towards more motivating resources — audiobooks, people, exercise, books, etc.

2. They are not in the form we expect.

This always happens. We tend to look at opportunities from certain avenues and forget the little side streets which might deliver the goods.

It might be with a person who initially seems inconsequential or a company who is not filling your sweet spot. Keep your eyes and mind open to new possibilities.

3. They are far away — in space or time — we must go after them.

Everyone wants opportunities to come to them quickly. In certain circumstances, it takes time for the opportunity to come into focus.

For example, you might want a promotion — but it might take the better part of a year to get your boss on board and then for him to coax upper management and HR on the idea. Be patient (but look for continuous results).

4. They look small and inconsequential at first, but as we get closer, they take on prominence and importance.

This is always the case with big opportunities. They are usually all around us, but we are looking for the immediate ‘big win’.

It’s almost like growing a delicate flower — watering, feeding, sunlight, clearing the weeds — all to ensure it matures into a beautiful rose.

What opportunities do you see all around you?