Opportunity and Endless Opportunity . . .

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

john@johnrchildress.com

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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One Response to Opportunity and Endless Opportunity . . .

  1. Pingback: Obstacle 64: Luck | CEO Blog

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