By Bernard Marr, Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Consultant in Strategy, Performance Management, Analytics, KPIs and Big Data
There are some things that ridiculously successful people do differently to most of us and in this post I want to look at one of the most important ones. When I was looking for some new ‘knock, knock jokes’ to put into my children’s lunch boxes (they are of an age where they can’t get enough of them)
I came across this one which inspired this post:
Don’t be silly, opportunity doesn't knock twice.
Success in work and life often depends on spotting and grabbing opportunities as they present themselves. It’s an important skill, and one that many of the most successful and powerful entrepreneurs and business people of the world have turned into quite a lot of money.
But they didn’t necessarily start with all the privileges or capital or traditional know-how, but rather used their finely honed nose to sniff out opportunity to their best advantage.
"Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming."Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Enterprises
Richard Branson originally wanted to simply be a journalist and editor, but found he had to learn to become an entrepreneur to keep his magazine afloat. Since then, Branson has become the epitome of the savvy business man who knows how to spot an opportunity.
Branson’s calling card these days involves seeing a somewhat staid and rigid industry—like the airline industry or mobile phone industry—and flipping it on its head, making it cool, unique, different, and calling a very unique set of customers in who weren’t being served by the old guard.
Be like Branson: Rather than trying to create something entirely new, look for opportunities to improve on that already exists in a meaningful way.
"When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice."Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
When Mary Kay Ash was denied a promotion, she took $5,000 of her life savings and turned it into one of the largest, most successful multi-level marketing companies ever at a time when female CEOs were still extremely rare.
Ash also made her rejection her passion: providing lucrative opportunities for women with no glass ceiling.
Be like Ash: Don’t let a setback sideline you. Instead, see it as impetus to create something new.
"I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!"Madam C.J. Walker, creator of a popular line of African-American hair care products and America's first self-made female millionaire
Opportunities are often discovered as a matter of necessity. After her husband died, Walker earned less than a dollar a day as a washer woman to support herself and her young daughter, but she was determined to earn enough to give her child a formal education. Walker had to take care of her family, but also saw a need for beauty products that catered to her unique needs as an African American woman.
A more modern example of this is the tale of how AirBnB came to be. Roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t make the rent on their San Francisco apartment, and decided to rent out their living room to guests who slept on air mattresses and enjoyed homemade breakfast—and the concept for the site was born.
Be like Walker: Opportunity can masquerade as necessity. Look for the needs that aren’t being met and develop a way to meet them.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”Thomas Edison, inventor
Edison definitely understood the value of work. In another famous quote, he said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
Edison understood that a single invention was unlikely to make and sustain the sort of success he wanted, so he continued working, challenging, and pursuing new ideas well past the stage when many would have given up.
Be like Edison: Don’t see failure as a sign to stop, but rather a sign to keep going. Opportunity doesn’t always present itself as the easiest option, but sometimes as a reward to those who keep working.
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”Bobby Unser, racecar driver and Indianapolis 500 winner
As an Indy car driver, Bobby Unser knew all about opportunity and using it to his advantage. But if he wasn’t prepared when the opportunity presented itself, he could lose the race—or worse. Unser is one of only ten drivers ever to win the Indy 500 more than three times, and was the first driver ever clocked at more than 190 miles per hour.
Opportunity, like luck, is often seen as the key factor to success, but preparation is equally, if not more, important. Practice, diligence, and education to make yourself the top of your field will ensure you are prepared when opportunity does knock.
Be like Unser: Make your education, practice or self improvement paramount so that you are ready and able to answer when opportunity appears.
So, the one thing successful people never fail to do is: Grab opportunities! I hope that this post serves as inspiration and motivation for everyone who aspires to be successful in whatever way you chose. How has opportunity contributed to your success? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below. Please share your thoughts...
About : Bernard Marr is a globally recognized expert in strategy, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data. He helps companies and executive teams manage, measure and improve performance.