Locating Yourself in the Places of Great Opportunity
They say there are three kinds of people in the world:
- Those who make things happen.
- Those who things happen to.
- Those who say, “What the heck happened?”
Two questions: Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?
People who consistently find themselves in the first category, people who make things happen, weren’t born that way, and they aren’t simply lucky. For the most part, people in this group are quite intentional in that they purpose to locate themselves in the places of greatest opportunity so that they can capitalize when opportunity presents itself. Dig into the life of anyone who started in humble beginnings, became successful, and then sustained that success, and you’ll find someone who has learned the secret of hanging out in the places of greatest opportunity.
This principle works regardless of profession or avocation, so it’s available to inventors, investors, job seekers, humanitarians, athletes, educators, salespeople, counselors, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers alike. All the great ones spend years or decades of hard work understanding their vocational or avocational world in order to discover precisely where the places of greatest opportunity are found. Timing had something to do with it, of course – the second or third person with the same idea or contribution is not nearly as notable as the first. Certainly hard work is a significant part of it, as is patient persistence to go the distance.
So how does one go about situating themselves in the places of greatest opportunity? Besides the aforementioned timing, hard work, and patient persistence, here are several actionable ideas you can put to work for yourself, in order to reside in the places of greatest opportunity:
1. Become an Expert. That hardest thing about expertise is that it takes time to get. Malcolm Gladwell’s business bestseller, Outliers, boldly states that in order to become an expert, one needs to invest 10,000 to build that expertise (for those of you interested in this concept, view this article and Infographic). It may not take precisely 10,000 hours, but it will take a serious investment of time to fully understand something well enough to spot the “greatest opportunities” that most casual observers miss. Which brings us to Opportunity Place Ingredient Number 2.
2. Identify What’s Missing. When you traffic in something long enough, you begin to spot trends, see problems, experience limitations, and become adjusted to the way things are. In time, you accept the limitations as “the way it is” and continue about your business. Then some bright person dares to challenge the status-quo and create a new paradigm. For example, President John F. Kennedy, challenged America to put a man on the moon in a decade, and we did. What lay behind the behind his challenge was this belief: “Some men see things as they are and ask, ‘why?’ We must see things that are not, and ask, ‘why not?’” Those who reside in the places of greatest opportunity challenge the status quo and identify:
a. What is missing?
b. What would make this better/faster/cheaper/easier to use?
c. What could save people time without sacrificing results?
You get the picture…identify what is missing once you’re an expert on what is there.
3. Experiment Like Edison. Every time you flick on the light switch and darkness is replaced by light, thank Thomas Edison for his relentless experimentation. Besides the light bulb, he invented the phonograph, motion pictures and nearly 1100 other things. Edison embodies someone who mastered Become and Expert and Identify What’s Missing. That said, not everything Edison touched turned into a successful invention. His light bulb failed more than 1,000 times before it succeeded. Edison he learned something new with each failure, “I haven’t failed 1,000 times…I’ve simply eliminated 1,000 ways a light bulb won’t work.” Continuous experimentation – with most falling short – finally made it possible to read at night without a candle and watch a baseball game played late into the evening. Which brings us to Opportunity Place Ingredient.
4. Embrace Failure Without Giving Up. A person is not a failure when he or she trips and falls to the ground. A person is a failure when he or she refuses to get up. Failure can be an excellent teacher if you take to time to dissect the failure and understand what went wrong. Failure was and is a precursor to success for those who didn’t give up. Beethoven, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, and a multitude of others you and I call successful all had a string of failures that preceded the successes for which they are famous, as this list, But They Did Not Give Up, points out. Bookmark this link. Whenever you feel discouraged, visit it and get inspired. Speaking of inspiration.
5. Find Your Inspiration, Feed Your Passion. Passion doesn’t just happen by itself…it is a work of inspiration. Where inspiration leads, passion follows. They are inextricably linked.
a. Brian Smith, inventor of the UGG Boot, used his passion for surfing in Australia, to invent UGGs Boots to slip his cold, wet feet into after a day of surfing.
b. Farm boy Philo Farsnworth’s almost obsessive passion about transmitting pictures over the airwaves led him to become the boy genius behind the invention of television.
c. Hired as a janitor, Vivien Thomas’ passion for inventing mechanical devices enabled him and partner Arthur Blalock to pioneer modern heart surgery (treat yourself to this true story on film, Something The Lord Made).
d. Whatever it is – Bible story or sunrise over the ocean – let your inspiration and passion drive your work, and you’ll soon find yourself in the places of greatest opportunity.
Five simple things that anyone can do if they so desire. Top salespeople do this when they perform a deep needs assessment with customers to uncover and solve unmet needs, wants and pain. Top job seekers do this when they find the right audience which to communicate their particular set of skills, talents, and experiences. Athletes and entertainers do this when they leverage God-given physical capabilities and talents to become household names. The best news is that everyday people like you and me can take up residence in the places of greatest opportunity!
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