One In The Hand Is Worth Five In The Bush

Today’s sure opportunities are more valuable than tomorrow’s possible opportunities.

In in the last few years, I’ve noticed something disturbing, yet enlightening: I tend to grossly overvalue future opportunities and grossly undervalue current opportunities. I know I’m not alone.

When it comes to potential opportunities, because they’re not solidified, we can easily embellish their likelihood of happening and their impact on our lives. Current opportunities aren’t like that. They’re real and they’re in front of your face, so while they might not look as good as what could be, they’re probably better than you think!

What Does the Future Hold?

We don’t know the future will bring. For that reason alone, the value of a potential future opportunity is MUCH lower than a definite current opportunity.

I’ve been watching a lot of the TV show Shark Tank, in which entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to the millionaires (and billionaire) on the show, hoping to get an investment. The bottom line is that an investment from any of the sharks is a huge win for any business and somewhat difficult to value because of the massive value such a prominent partner brings.

But on the show, I’ve seen several entrepreneurs lose deals because they’re enamored with the possibility of future offers from other sharks. They lose because of greed. In the clip below, Barbara Corcoran has made the entrepreneur an offer, and right as it seems she’s about to accept it, Lori Greiner interrupts. Barbara then says that if she lets Lori make an offer, she will withdraw her offer.

This is a fascinating scenario in which she has an offer on the table, and a potential offer from Lori. See what happens next.

She didn’t get a deal!

Barbara withdrew her offer and Lori ended up not making an offer. This is a fantastic lesson in the value of taking current opportunities over possibly greater future opportunities.

The famous saying goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” I think that’s inaccurate. A bird in the hand is worth MORE than two in the bush. Perhaps it’s worth three or four or five in the bush!

Curiosity is one of my favorite attributes. It can be dangerous, however, to be so curious about a future opportunity that you let a current one slip away. Don’t let future-osity stop you from taking a great opportunity now.

Why You Should Take Good Opportunities Quickly

The main reason to take good opportunities now is that they rarely cost you future opportunities. More often than not, they will lead you to ADDITIONAL opportunities.

Early in my career as an author, Mini Habits experienced quite a bit of success. I started getting queries from agents and publishers for foreign language rights to my book. Many of the offers were quite low, and I could have reasonably argued that I should wait or haggle for better offers given my book’s increasing popularity. 

But instead of waiting for better offers or negotiating myself out of an offer, I negotiated a little bit and took close to what I was offered most of the time. I just wanted to get my book out there in different languages, rather than hope and wait for the killer advance deal. Then, it paid off.

In 2014, Mini Habits was published in South Korea and it took off. It became the #1 selling self-help book there for a full month! My book royalties dwarfed the small advance I was offered, and because it did so well, my next book fetched an advance that was 10x greater than what I got for Mini Habits! I’m glad I didn’t wait for a better offer. Even if I had gotten double or triple the offer for the initial Mini Habits books, the time cost of waiting for it would have still made it a worse deal.

Future Opportunities Usually Have Lower-Than-Expected Value

A popular youtuber with almost a million followers told me he planned to make a descriptive video of Mini Habits that would receive hundreds of thousands of views. He never made the video.

I’ve dreamed of having my other books advertised on Bookbub. They’ve rejected my submissions every time, even though my other two books are rated higher than Mini Habits!

You can’t count on the future dealing you the right cards at the right time, so don’t count on them! Always lean towards the opportunities you have right now, and it will pay off now and later.

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