Agri-Women's Development Trust

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Opportunity knocks – by Wendy Coup

As featured in Shepherdess Magazine, June 2020.  Photo by Karina Pulman

In a turbulent time of transition globally, the ability to pivot, adapt and see opportunity is more poignant than ever. Beyond the news headlines and media scrum are those who are seeking the silver linings from a space of calm courage and centred clarity. Producer, Facilitator and Coach Wendy Coup has discovered the art of sorting the wheat from the chaff, when it comes to divining and crafting the perfect opportunity.

Lately, I have been thinking about opportunity and how it has shaped my life. Opportunity shows itself every day and manifests through my decisions; do I take that opportunity or choose another? The way I see it, opportunity lies in the small things; what I choose to do with my time and who I choose to spend that time with.

Living rurally as a farming woman has never been a barrier to opportunity finding me. My community, most likely just like yours, needs us to be willing to dig in and help out. I found this out quickly when I first settled into my new King Country home and became a mum. As my children grew and challenged me, so too did the opportunities and roles I took on in my community. What I gave in energy and commitment, I got back in spades in the form of new skills,self-confidence,reputation, friendship and networks.

In the last eight years, I have become more discerning towards opportunity, discovering that I can shape it to fit with what I genuinely want and how I want to live. The first step for me to understand this more clearly was for me to get clear on the question, What do I want? and What is my vision for me and my life? Participating in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s two-day course, ‘It’s All About You’, was the perfect opportunity for me to gain some real insight into myself and start to create a picture of the life I wanted to live. I wrote down a list of what I wanted from future opportunities; emotional connection, personal fulfillment, the chance to make a positive difference, the ability to work from home, the chance to be creative, the use of my talents, to be paid, seize some life balance and move out of my on-farm management role.

I then lined this list up with opportunities that came my way and I would see how many boxes they ticked. This helped me to discern if I would take it or let it go. Not every opportunity ticked every box, but if I could see it was heading me in the direction I

wanted to go, then I would give it a go. One day I got a call to see if I was interested in doing some empathy interviews. The only box it ticked was the emotional connection one, however I felt really drawn to this opportunity. I took it and loved every minute of it and took away a great experience and a huge amount of learning, including more clarity around my next steps.

Even though I trusted that opportunities would continue to present themselves, I also discovered that I could create opportunity. I found that sharing my dream and vision helped to create the chance for others to help me find that next step I was looking for. An example of this was when I extended an invitation to meet with someone I had met at an Awards Dinner. Yes, it did feel risky and a bit vulnerable sitting next to a veritable stranger, sharing my vision. I could never have imagined the silver lining of that conversation. I received an opportunity that ticked all my boxes and felt my confidence soar. A few years later, I summoned my courage and rolled right up to the person I wanted to work for and told them just that. Pretty risky, but it paid off.

One trait I have developed over the last few years is that I no longer feel I must give people an answer to a request straight away. If an opportunity knocks on my door, I listen and then say, “Can I get back to you within the next 24 hours?” Even if the little voice in my head is screaming at me, “Say yes, say yes!”, I give myself the gift of time to consider it carefully and calmly. If my answer is “No”, I can craft my response, knowing I have honoured myself and my vision.

I don’t have a crystal ball to see what opportunities will be lining up for me in the future, however I think that makes me more excited, more curious, and more open to the possibility of opportunity every day. Hang on a minute…I think I hear her knocking!

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