It was just another day at my community college alma mater Fall 2008, I had decided to return for another semester part-time while attending the local university part-time as well.
The school year had just begun, and like always, I headed to the student center after class. While walking to my usual hangout spot, Jack, the student newspaper advisor stopped me. He explained that the paper was in real danger of not being published the rest of the year because he literally had no staff. The previous editor and staff had all either moved on to other schools or were working and not enrolled in school that semester. Jack told me he thought I was an excellent writer, and could use my help with the paper.
“You can have any position you want-editor, assistant editor, doesn’t matter,” He said to me. I told him I would think about it, and let him know.
Editor? Assistant editor? Just a few months prior, I was just a contributing writer. Before then? Besides a few articles here and there, I had very little journalism experience. I knew nothing about running a paper. I could either be an assistant editor and sit under someone else, kicking myself for not taking the crazy opportunity to be editor in chief, or be the editor-in-chief, and go on the adventure of a lifetime. I chose the latter.
Can I tell you a secret? I was scared.
What if I failed? What if nobody read the newspaper? What if I couldn’t find any staff writers or photographers? No matter what, I’d be starting from scratch. I knew nothing about being editor-in-chief. I decided to trust that everything would work out.
And guess what? It did.
As editor-in-chief, it led to some amazing opportunities & moments. I did end up with a small staff. I met Bob Costas, traveled to New York City for a newspaper conference, got a new job because of my position as editor-in-chief, appeared on local television alongside two other editor-in-chiefs from bigger, local universities, won awards. I had the time of my life, and many more amazing moments I don’t have the space & time to list.
What if I had let fear stop me though? What if I had chosen assistant editor instead?
I would have missed out on all of the above.
When opportunity knocks, answer it. Walking through an unknown door is the best part of the adventure. Sure, you don’t know what is behind it, but that is the fun on it. It could lead to amazing things. You never know if you never try. The worst that can happen is that you fail. And when you fail? You end up succeeding. Failure means one of a few things: 1) Right thing, wrong place/time, 2) Wrong time, place and thing, so try something new, 3) Right place, wrong thing, wrong time. If 1 or 3 happens, then at least you know you’re in the ballpark. Who knows, failure might lead to another opportunity in the vicinity. Learn to be okay with failure and making mistakes.
When opportunity knocks? Answer it.