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The Nays Have It: Passing On An "Opportunity" Isn't Always A Bad Idea More often than not, we say yes to things purely out of fear that missing out on them will cost us, without bothering to consider the cost we are going to pay by taking on these endeavors in the first place.

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


When what seems like a good opportunity presents itself to you, how do you decide whether to take it on and run with it right away, or pass it for now and hope for another, better one to come your way?

In a world where we are repeatedly told to "never pass up on an opportunity," it can be extremely challenging to rebuff such offers when they come to you. Entrepreneurs, you might feel this kind of internal conflict when, say, dealing with investors who promise funds for your enterprises, but who will also dilute your stake in the company to an alarming extent, or bully you into terms that aren't in the best future interest of your startup. Or, you'll perhaps face this issue when you entertain prospective clients who could bring your business a lot of dollars, but aren't in alignment with your values as a company.

As someone who is prone to bouts of overthinking every now and then, I am quite familiar with the debilitating aspects of the anxiety that comes at the crossroads of decisions. We can't predict the future, and all of the misgivings we have with prospects are almost always just gut feelings- and therein starts our conundrum of whether or not we should trust our intuition.

When I find myself in such situations, I always start by going at them with my analytical bent of mind- and that often means a careful examination of all of the data or information I have at my disposal, which includes my own personal experiences on the matter at hand, as well as insights from those I trust around me. I follow this up by mapping out all of the potential scenarios that can result from me saying both "yes" and "no" to the offer in front of me- all of this is complete conjecture, of course, but it's my way of figuring out "what's the worst that could happen," and then deciding how I feel about all of the potential outcomes, good and bad.

It is through the course of this process that I sort of chisel away the bells and whistles that make an opportunity seem enticing, and drill into how it actually helps enhance or contribute to the vision or goals I have for myself in the long run. More often than not, we say yes to things purely out of fear that missing out on them will cost us, without bothering to consider the cost we are going to pay by taking on these endeavors in the first place. And even if we go by a fear-based logic, shouldn't you then be worried that saying yes to a "good" opportunity is blocking you from saying yes to a "great" one that may come after?

Essentially, it's a matter of deciding where you want to invest your mind and energy. As Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said, "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the 100 other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully." That's sound advice, in my opinion- just because something is presented as a good opportunity, it doesn't mean that it's actually good for you.

Related: Cheerleaders > Doomsayers: It May Not Sound Realistic To You, But That Doesn't Mean It's Wrong

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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