Opportunity: origin 1375–1425 [Latin ob portu]
The word opportunity harkens back to a world of harbors and sailing vessels. Before the chug of an engine could power a boat to safe harbor, sailing ships had to sit outside of port waiting for the right wind and tide conditions to carry them and their wares to their destination. These conditions were called ob portu, Latin for “into port.” The perfect mix of tide and wind conditions came to be called opportunity.
Ask around today and many would say that the opportunity was the port itself—the market awaiting the goods—the people with unmet needs, wants, and desires creating demand for new products from distant lands. At the other side of the world, the maker of the goods that became cargo may have viewed the opportunity as the chance to invent something new, perhaps using a new technology to create superior goods, which in turn spurred new demand. The people of that time saw it differently. To them the opportunity was about the conditions that brought the cargo and the port together.
Real opportunity lies in all three—the port awaiting the goods, the capabilities and technologies that make those goods possible, and the weather and tides that bring them together. In times past, as well as today, opportunity for revenue is only realized when all three coincide. One without the other is hardly an opportunity. ...