When Preparation Meets Opportunity

In our last ezine article we wrote about how to outlast your competition. Some of our readers found a discretionary point in the content. The idea of luck may or may not resound with you. Let me take this opportunity to talk about the idea of luck.

I share the same definition as Oprah on this one: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Some people believe it is all preparation; others believe it is all about opportunity. I think it is the convergence of both.

It is likely that you missed a lot of opportunities in the last 30 days because you were not prepared to take advantage of them. It is also likely that you have prepared and may have had a “build it and they will come” mentality. The problem is, you may have built it for the wrong opportunity.

In the book, Fooled By Randomness Nassim Taleb explores a rather lengthy thought process on the idea of luck. He is a probabilistic theorist; he focuses on what could have been from both a mathematical proof and empirical analysis. Unlike most people, he is not enamored by the success someone has. He is more interested in the generator – that mechanism which caused the success. For he understands that a lottery ticket winner who made a $110,000 in winnings for a year is not the same as a software developer who made the same. In the myriad of possible outcomes in their life, the software developer could have ended up in a plus or minus $10,000 situation, while the lottery winner could have been minus $150,000. They have two different realities.

Let’s discuss how you get more lucky using the two elements of luck, preparation and opportunity:

  • Preparation: Under the covers of a true professional is preparation. We live in a culture where we think people who entertain us or are held to superstardom somehow just showed up. However, we lose insight into what got them to center stage. They worked harder than anyone around them. They mastered their trade, swimming upstream against the court of public opinion. Preparation means playing out the exact script before a sales discussion. It means setting up systems to create an experience for your customer. It means being deserving of new business before getting it. This work happens when others are not around. It happens when you are alone working on the things that you anticipate will happen. Athletes do this all the time. They perform drills and take shots which simulate the real event, for they know when that event comes, they are fully prepared.
  • Opportunity: Opportunity is about time, place and people. There are a myriad of possible outcomes that could happen in your life. Opportunity is about how wide or narrow you make those possibilities. If you have built a routine life where you do not have very much encounters with people, you probably will not see much opportunity. The marketplace is filled with opportunity. When you make a pick where you are going to hang your hat, you have limited the other options. Think about the place you are at and the people you encounter daily. Get honest and ask yourself what the possibilities could ever become if nothing changed. Think of your workplace like a movie. Are you in a drama or where the action is?

In your own life, think through what choices you could make to create your own “luck.” If we played the next 365 days of the same script of your routine, what possibilities could come your way? How you prepare and what opportunities you subject yourself to will determine how lucky you can become. If you do not invest in yourself, you will not be that lucky. You will get the same results in the realm of your limited opportunity. Choose to be “lucky” instead.

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