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How Many Times Must One Lose Opportunities Before Going After New Ones?

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Apparently, there are no fixed number of times for one to lose opportunities before once again embarking on a dash and rush to discover new ones. Any opportunity lost should not be a death sentence; nor should it be a nail on a coffin to seal one’s fate for eternity. Rather, a lost opportunity should be an impetus to redouble efforts, to redeem the self, to rejuvenate the visions, and to reassert the self as relevant, present, capable, and willing to conquer new worlds.

The question should not be the number of times; but should be the need and capacity to launch new strategies and tactics to go after many or any available opportunities to compensate for the lost ones.

A Difference Between Lost And Missed Opportunities.

Let me make a sharp distinction between a lost and a missed opportunity.

When an opportunity is lost it technically means it is gone forever. That specific or particular chance may never come one’s way again. I say this because there are instances when one has lost a specific opportunity, only to see similar opportunities arise again in general circumstances, as distinct from specific and particular chances.

As an illustration, five summers ago in New York subway, I approached a beautifully attired professional woman in the train ride from work at Columbia University, one of those weeks I was in Uptown New York. I initiated a conversation with her. We hit off real good. We both were laughing at each other’s comedic routines as if we had known one another for ages. The chemistry was instant.

I did not want to rush my luck and blow this golden opportunity to meet a smart and erudite woman on a train ride. I was mesmerized. It was surreal. So, I strategized. I reasoned it was best to ease into her affableness and make her more comfortable speaking with me.

Then all of a sudden, she stood up before the next train stop . That is an indication she was heading toward the exit door. My gut inclination was to follow her; but my gentlemanly orientation advised against that inkling.

I then relapsed into rationalization: she was just trying to be polite and nice to have spoken with me. After all, we both were seated on the same row in the train. She was a captive audience of one; as much as I was same to her. She had no where to go away from me. That may explain the horridness to alight the train before it even called her stop.

I continued riding the same train for about a month during three months of my research sabbatical at Columbus University. I never did see her again on my several rides, to and from the university. I then lost hope. That was an opportunity I had lost; but not missed.

I lost the opportunity to get to know her more. I lost the opportunity to exchange contact information for a repeat and possible continuous exchanges. I lost an opportunity to follow her that day as she alighted from the train.

To qualify for missed opportunity would have been if I did not speak with her at all. Missed opportunity would also have been me initiating an exchange and she rebuffing me with scorn or coldness.

Why We Lose Opportunities.

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We lose opportunities in life because of several reasons, and in multiple occasions. Here are some:

First, it could be due timidity. We get scared for making the right and immediate move to take action.

Second, we lose opportunities because we are insecure of our abilities; and then we procrastinate.

Third, we lose opportunities because others tell us we are not ready yet for the next big game.

Fourth, we lose opportunities because we are not culturally and socially savvy as our competitors.

Fifth, we lose opportunities because we do not want to offend those to whom we are beholden for one favor or another they did us. And so we seek their approval and do not want to rock the boat they are in.

Sixth, we lose opportunities because the culture had instructed us from birth to be nice to our superiors; and so we act nice waiting for our turns, rather than seize every moment to affirm and define ourselves.

Seventh, we lose opportunities due ignorance of the rules of interactions relative to the particular situations we find ourselves in.

Eighth, we lose opportunities because we have a feeling of inferiority and thus we wait approval from our benefactors or waiting for a nudge from a significant other before we can make the move for leveraging on the opportunities.

Ninth, we lose opportunities because we lack the initiative because of our reliance on others with whom we trust or work with, expecting them to be honest, fair, and trusting enough to show us the ropes and tell us the right times to do certain things.

And lastly, we lose opportunities because we have been burnt one time too many. So we become overly cautious , not wanting to fail again.

Take The Leap Forward Regardless Of The Frequencies Of Losses.

It is not the number of times that one loses opportunities; it is what one does after each or any lost.

First, try to recapture other opportunities in either specific, particular, or general circumstances you find yourself.

Second, be bold and courageous, knowing full well that no one would willingly share with you great opportunities, unless in rare instances of close friends and family members.

Third, do not be pulverized by the loss; instead be energized. Get bullish. A friend told me of the 30x rules to getting a girl in high school. His theory was to continue accepting “No Thanks” up to thirty times hoping to get a “Yes” before the magic thirty.

Fourth and finally, let me remind you of Samuel Beckett’s famous admonition, “ Fail, Fail Better.”

Let each failure make the next a better failure, in that it may not hurt as much as the preceding ones. But it might!


There are no guarantees of success. Pedigree, training, association, innateness, affiliation, or hard-work, are no predictors. Crave, create, invent, and cultivate opportunities no matter how many times you blow them. There is every probability that you may win one after 10, 000 or more losses. And that one will compensate for the thousands of lost opportunities.

But the best option is to exploit the one opportunity you get to the maximum advantage.


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