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Opportunity and Attention


Explanations > Perception > Attention > Opportunity

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?



We are also constantly on the lookout for things that may serve our needs, interests or goals. If something looks like it may be useful, we pay more attention to it.

  • Goals are the things we consciously seek to achieve, including at work and at home, and may plan carefully for these.
  • Interests are more general than goals, although they usually still serve them. For example we may have a general interest in making new friends, so when in company we enjoy talking to strangers.
  • Basic needs drive much of our thinking and choices, and goals are often based on satisfying these, for example a goal to get promoted may be based on gaining more money, which serves control and status needs.

Opportunities are typically unplanned and happen due to external circumstances more than things we have deliberately done.


A person buys a bargain in the sales.

A job opening comes up and a person at work who had not thought about this for a career tries for the job anyway.

A criminal sees an open door in a house and slips in to see what can be stolen.


When we assess things our ongoing understanding, after worrying about threats, we look for two things that may be to our advantage. First, we check that things happened as we expected, in particular that actions we took in pursuit of our goals actually worked. Secondly, we check for unexpected things that may benefit us.

What we call luck is more about vigilance than random chance or predestined fate. One of the secrets of success in life is to see and take these opportunities as they appear.

In art, pictures play to needs and interests. As social animals, we are interested in people and will study them in pictures as we do in life. Our needs for mating and safety makes beautiful as powerful people attractive. We also find beauty in nature, where we seek fertile valleys and are awestruck by great mountains that seem to connect with the gods. In general, we are warmed by the familiar, by symmetry and by simplicity.

So what?

For yourself, keep a steady eye out for opportunities. Do not look just for confirmation of actions and things that satisfy main goals.

When persuading others, supply opportunities that will distract them from their current action. You can show them ways to reach their goals more easily. You can also play to interests or even needs in order to distract them.

See also

Needs, Interests, Goals


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