why we must all become opportunists
Published Apr 12, 2023 by Timothy J. Baek

The concept of being an opportunist has long been associated with a negative connotation, often deemed as cunning or unscrupulous. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that being an opportunist is not only a natural human tendency, but also a trait that has led to the enrichment of civilisations and societies throughout history.

At its core, being an opportunist means recognising and seizing opportunities as they arise. It is a mindset that involves being alert, adaptable, and resourceful in order to make the most out of any given situation. From an evolutionary perspective, this trait has been hardwired into the human psyche as a means of survival. It is ingrained in our DNA to seize opportunities for food, shelter, and safety, which are essential for our survival.

Despite its inherent importance, being an opportunist often carries negative connotations in modern society. This is primarily due to the emotion of jealousy, which can arise when individuals perceive others taking advantage of opportunities that they themselves have missed. Jealousy is a complex emotion that can trigger feelings of resentment, insecurity, and envy. It can lead individuals to view opportunistic behaviour as deceitful or unfair, resulting in the negative connotations associated with being an opportunist.

One concrete example of human psychology that highlights this phenomenon is the "tall poppy syndrome." This phenomenon refers to the tendency of some individuals to resent or criticise those who have achieved success or recognition, often out of jealousy or envy. In such cases, being an opportunist and seizing opportunities to succeed can be met with criticism or backlash, resulting in a social stigma.

However, it can be argued that being an opportunist, when practiced ethically and responsibly, can lead to rational decision-making and ultimately enrich everyone's lives. By being alert and adaptable to opportunities, individuals can make informed choices and take calculated risks to achieve their goals. It encourages critical thinking, strategic planning, and the ability to capitalise on favourable circumstances. Being an opportunist can also foster creativity and innovation, as individuals actively seek out new possibilities and explore uncharted territories.

History is replete with examples of how opportunistic behaviour has shaped civilisations. Take, for instance, the Age of Exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries, when explorers like Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama embarked on daring expeditions in search of new trade routes and resources. Their opportunistic mindset and willingness to take risks led to the discovery of new lands, the expansion of trade networks, and the exchange of ideas and cultures, ultimately leading to the enrichment of societies.

In modern times, being an opportunist has played a crucial role in technological advancements and scientific discoveries. Innovators like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, known for their opportunistic mindset, have revolutionised industries and transformed the way we live and work through their visionary ideas and relentless pursuit of opportunities. Their opportunistic approach has brought about disruptive changes, creating new markets and transforming entire industries.

In conclusion, being an opportunist is a natural human tendency that has been crucial to the development of civilisations and societies throughout history. While it may carry negative connotations due to jealousy and envy, when practiced ethically and responsibly, being an opportunist can lead to rational decision-making, foster creativity and innovation, and ultimately enrich everyone's lives. It is a mindset that encourages individuals to be alert, adaptable, and resourceful in seizing opportunities as they arise. So, let us ask ourselves, in a world full of opportunities, are we willing to embrace our inherent opportunistic nature and harness it for the betterment of ourselves and society as a whole?