Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. –Seneca
We live in a remarkable age. An age of opportunity. At no other time in the history of mankind has there been so much opportunity. Opportunity to travel –airplanes take us anywhere we want to go, in hours. Opportunity to be heard – the internet and free blogs have given a voice to anyone on any subject. Opportunity to build your own business – Instagram went from zero to $1 Billion in 18 months. Opportunity to improve the world – breakthroughs in science are happening every day – 3-D Additive Manufacturing is improving the environment.
And opportunity is not just for those with college degrees or trust funds. Much of what is learned today can be self-taught, using the tools of the internet, distance learning, even YouTube. For those with ambition and discipline, the opportunity to learn is everywhere.
Then there is the other side of opportunity. What I call, “endless opportunity”. With so many opportunities available, rather than get started, rather than exert the discipline to exploit a budding opportunity, many people flit from one thing to another. “I could do this. Wow, this is cool, I’ll do this instead. Now this is interesting, maybe I will be . . . “
Nothing becomes great without great effort, and great effort always comes with great resistance.
Contrary to popular opinion, Angry Birds was not an overnight success. It took 10 years and being on the verge of bankruptcy before it all came together and the game took off. They didn’t live in endless opportunity, jumping from one cool opportunity to another. They dug in, they kept at it and kept at it. And the more the worked, the more they learned, and the more they learned, the better their attempts became.
“I’m a firm believer in luck, and I’ve found that the harder I work, the luckier I get.” -Thomas Jefferson
Living in “endless opportunity” is an easy way to avoid the discipline and work required to build a meaningful life. When I was in college in the 60’s the catch phrase was: “Get a life.” What I am talking about is “Build a life”.
Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. There is no perfect opportunity. There is no perfect marriage, no perfect partner, no perfect job, no perfect idea. All are beginnings, but it takes work, effort and persistence against resistance to create a finished product you can be proud of.
Too often I hear young people say, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life.” And my reply is, unless you are the 1 in a 1000 who are very clear at an early age on your life’s ambition, you won’t know until you get fully immersed into something that interests you and you learn everything there is to know about that subject. And once you begin to master that, then a multitude of real opportunities open up. Real opportunities. Like the young man who followed his passion for singing, which let to an opportunity to work with some physicists on voice analysis which eventually let to developing highly sought after speech recognition software and made him very rich.
My daughter, Stephanie, aged 12, doesn’t know what she want to be but she has been practicing the violin devotedly for the past 6 years. She also watches and reads about operas and goes to every opera she can. She is more knowledgeable about operas than most adults. And opportunities are beginning to open up to give solo recitals, meet famous conductors like Benjamin Zander and Ed Gardner, play in festivals. Why? Because she decided long ago to become a musician? No. Because with discipline and interest, she is creating her own luck, and opportunity and luck seem to be Siamese twins!
There is no substitution for discipline and focused learning, and if you do, doors will open to real opportunity.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress