opportunityI know that I am far from alone in my sincere belief that life is one giant opportunity.  Whether we care to admit it or not, we all miss more opportunities than we realize…it’s just math.  The key is to minimize the number of opportunities missed and increase the number of opportunities realized.  Over the course of my life, I have benefitted from incredible opportunities.  As I reflect upon my good fortune, I realize that I can categorize each opportunity into one or more of the following three types:

Timed Opportunities: Sometimes in life we are just plain lucky. We are in the right place at the right time with the right people and magic happens. It’s as if anyone else fortunate enough to be in our shoes at that very time would have benefitted the same way. Serendipity is real! Whether or not I care to admit it, many opportunities realized were a result of nothing more than good luck.

Self-Created Opportunities: It would be foolish to think that skill, hard work, and perseverance didn’t play a significant role in the opportunities we continue to realize. I am surrounded by incredibly talented, hard-working individuals who are uniquely equipped to create opportunities not only for themselves, but also for the team as a whole, as well as individual members of their team.  As lucky as I continue to be, it would be wrong of me to lead others to believe that I didn’t work hard.

Opportunities Created on our Behalf: No matter how hard we work or how talented we might be, there are plenty of instances where the opportunities we enjoy are a result of someone else’s doing. We gave another individual reason to create an opportunity for us, to give us a chance when others were not willing, and/or to personally invest in our development. Many talk about mentorship, but not enough recognize that mentors identify and continue to invest time in protégés who demonstrate a return on that investment. Over time, and unintentionally, I have given some amazing people reason to create opportunities for me. It’s great to be in a position to turn the tables and reciprocate by identifying talent and targeting my mentorship activities. I believe it’s important to realize that no matter where we are in our life journey, we are more than capable of creating opportunities for others. At the same time, it’s vital to understand that others will not create opportunities with/for us, if we do not give them reason to make such an investment.

Though it’s fairly easy for me to look back on the most significant milestones in my life thus far and determine which of the above played the dominant role in realizing the opportunity, every opportunity is a combination of all three. As we continue to realize opportunity, it’s important to understand the luck involved, the hard work we put in, and the assistance others gave. If you are one who is quick to pat yourself on the back, think about expressing gratitude to those who undoubtedly helped.  If you you are quick to express gratitude and give others credit, think about giving yourself some credit. And if you overlook luck as a factor, you are just plain wrong.

  • How lucky have you been?
  • How hard have you been working?
  • Are you giving others reason to invest in you? Are you investing in others?

Graphic courtesy of Your Story