Opportunities, Chances, Challenges

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Oluwasina Awolusi
  • 42nd Medical Group
Opportunities present themselves in so many ways ... whether we are looking for them or not.

My first big opportunity came in the form of a lottery. Not the kind that would have made me a millionaire, but one that would change my life forever. Thirteen years ago, this lottery offered my family the chance to emigrate from Nigeria to the United States. Though moving our seven-member family was an enormous challenge, we chose to take the risk in hope of a better life.

Fifteen months after we arrived to the United States, I joined the U.S. Air Force, an opportunity that turned out to be just as challenging as moving to a new country had been for me. While at basic military and technical training, I engrossed myself in embracing and learning the Air Force culture. My first duty location provided many additional opportunities to grow. I learned from my peers, NCOs and SNCOs, who took the time to help me progress, professionally and personally as well.

Accepting, my current duty position is a great example of my taking a chance on a challenging opportunity. This time last year, I was approached about the possibility of becoming the group commander's executive assistant. Being a pharmacy technician, I was accustomed to interacting with others, but had to overcome my weakness of performing administrative work, as that could be a significant roadblock to my success.

Sure, I could have said no thanks, I don't think I am the right person for this job, but, like a good Airman, I replied "I'm all in." Hard work had seen me through life up to this point, and I was sure it would once again. I planned to keep my nose to the grindstone, developing my weak areas while enhancing my strengths.


Use every situation as an opportunity. Some believe that opportunity knocks only once on one's door, but I beg to differ. We get so wrapped around only how we want to get what we want, that we tend not to consider the other alternate routes. These "routes" may be opportunities in disguise just waiting to be unearthed. "Doors of opportunity don't open, they unlock; it is up to you to turn the knob." - Lily Taylor


You might find it tempting to ignore tougher challenges because you are afraid of failing. Thomas Edison failed on numerous attempts to invent the light bulb. But, along the way, he learned how "not" to build light bulbs. Pres. John F. Kennedy once said, "there are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction." Take a chance ... enjoy your successes, but more importantly, learn from your mistakes.


I am sure you will agree many of us do not enjoy confrontation. However, we might want to take into account former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's advise. "When you confront a problem, you begin to solve it." Our challenges are the difficulties on the surface of potential opportunities. Some are simple; others quite difficult. Take a chance and tackle your challenges head on; with success or failure, you will be moving in the right direction.

Twelve years and three assignments later, I continue to apply those three principals in my everyday life. Being the executive officer to the Medical Group commander has been very rewarding, and I would have lost out on a great deal of learning had I avoided this opportunity.