There’s nothing wrong with being opportunistic, as long as you aren’t throwing all moral convictions out the window. There are certainly times when life presents a situation that you’d be stupid to not take advantage of.
I think a good rule for striking this balance is asking yourself if you’re taking advantage of some one in the process. I think that’s where we start to cross over into the dirty side of being opportunistic and have the potential to become an opportunist.
The difference is subtle yet huge.
By definition, to be opportunistic is to exploit chances offered by immediate circumstances without reference to a general plan or moral principle. It’s an adjective used to describe an act…a behavior. An opportunist, on the other hand, is a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans.
I know both types.
I know people that are opportunistic when faced with certain circumstances. Heck, that’s exactly what I was when I realized I could actually retire at 41…if I wanted to change my life. I did, so I did. I saw an opportunity and I exploited the chance to live for me without reference to a general plan or moral principle. That moral principle being the societal assumption that to be successful or a contributor or valued, you have to have a job that requires you to make personal sacrifices and work your ass off….ummm, not really so much actually.
I also know people that are opportunists. For me, those are the people that…on the regs…elect to exploit others for their own personal gain with little regard to how it might make someone feel. You see, to an opportunist, it doesn’t matter how they make you feel. All that matters is how they feel…the gain achieved…the step up taken, most likely on the back of someone else.
It’s hard to identify those types when you’re in the middle of all your “stuff”…working your ass off for a greater cause…pushing each other to achieve results. It’s hard to think that some of the people standing next to you…supposedly supporting you…might simply be propping you up because they’re standing on your coat tail.
I’ll admit I was naive in the workplace when it came to the people I cared about. And fortunately or unfortunately, I cared about a lot of the people I worked with. I was genuine with my feelings for my co-workers. I wanted everyone to enjoy their work as much as possible. I wanted folks to have a feeling of accomplishment and purpose. I wanted people to feel valued and appreciated. I wanted them to feel cared for. I didn’t want these things for the people I worked with because it progressed my career in someway….although, I’d like to think the karma of being good to others helped to do that. I wanted these things because that’s who I am…and how I choose to treat people. I treated them like I would want to be treated.
And I think for the most part, I was treated that way in return. It’s only now…in hindsight…with so much distance and perspective…that I’m able to see where this wasn’t the case. I’m pleased…and just a little heartbroken…to note that there were only a couple people in my career that I can without a doubt say were opportunists. There’s a part of my soul that hopes they don’t even realize their repetitive behavior became them. Meaning they were opportunistic so frequently that they eventually became opportunists…showing little to no regard for who they hurt along the way.
It’s interesting, though. Now that I’m able to see how I was treated, it’s so obvious that’s how they treat most of the people in their life. If you don’t have something to offer…if you aren’t a status influencer…if you aren’t constantly propping them up…if you don’t have something that they think they might need at some point, you’re out. You’re a memory. You’re a person they used to know. You’re…well, nothing.
For the record, I don’t want people like that in my life anyway. As much as it might hurt to make the realization that my relationship was simply a stepping stone, I’m so thankful to see the truth. I choose to surround myself with people that I can learn from…people that push me to be a better person in the ways that matter to me…people who have heart and give it without expectation of getting anything back in return. In fact, I think if we were all a little more altruistic with our relationships, we’d have a lot more opportunities to be opportunistic. Ha, think about that for a minute…
PS: If this post offended you…#sorrynotsorry. Maybe you can use this as an opportunity to change your behavior. Just a thought.