I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and decided it would be a good book from which to write a new series on success here at bizchickblogs. What I like most about the book – and I’m 60% through it in two days – is the focus on opportunities, whether hidden, recognized, or missing, that exist in all of our lives. The idea in Outliers is that success is not merely the result of a high IQ or extreme dedication. It’s also a result of circumstances – family upbringing, social status, heritage, location, cut off dates, time spent practicing, and even birth year.
Which brings us to the point of opportunities.
What opportunities existed for you to help you get where you are now? Your first thought may be, “none,” especially if you are at the bottom of a hole with a long way up. But if you’re reading this, you have access to the Internet, which is huge, despite the feeling that it is everywhere. What if you lived day in and day out with no Internet access? How would your life be different?
What if you went to a different elementary school, or, went to the same school but had a different teacher in 3rd grade? What if you skipped a grade, or were held back? What if your parents had more or less money? How would your life be different?
After you’ve spent some time looking back, focus on the present. That’s harder, but it’s just as important in identifying opportunities that exist – or that need to exist – in order for you to achieve success. For me, I am very fortunate to work for one of the best companies in the world, which happens to provide a $5,000 per year tuition reimbursement program. That’s a huge opportunity that not everyone has.
In order for me to get to where I want to be in my career, I’ll need management experience. I recognize that as a needed opportunity – I need the chance to manage a team. Once I am successful in managing a team, I can manage a department, then a division, then ultimately an entire organization.
Spend some time recognizing your opportunities or the opportunities you need in order to get to where you need to go. Pick up the book Outliers and come to terms with the reality that your sheer willpower will not get you to where you want to go, unless your willpower creates the opportunities you need to be successful. Ultimately you need opportunities to surface.
Once we’ve got opportunities mastered – the recognition of the ones we have, and the acknowledgment of the ones we still need – we can work on embracing and creating opportunities so that we can realize our dreams.
Image Credit: o5com