Monday, May 14, 2012

where preparation meets opportunity

Great things happen when preparation meets opportunity.

A picture's worth a thousand words, so have a look at this video - the gold medal speed skating race from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.


It's easy to watch Steven Bradbury coast to victory and say how lucky he was, or to otherwise downplay his accomplishment. But that's selling his achievement short. There are two sides of the equation: preparation and opportunity.

Steven Bradbury spent a decade training for that race. He was the fastest speed skater in his country's history. He was one of the fastest skaters in the whole world at that time. He didn't wake up one morning and decide to line up for the gold medal race; he had given everything he had - blood, sweat, tears, early mornings, tireless training sessions, monitoring his food intake, declining social invitations - so that he could be *in* that race.

The fact that the other skaters all crashed just seconds away from the finish line was an opportunity - a big opportunity. The opportunity of a lifetime. And what did Bradbury do with this opportunity? He seized it. His tireless preparation had put him in a position where he was able to turn an opportunity into greatness. He became his country's first gold medal winner in any sport in the winter olympics! That makes him kind of a big deal..

The thing about opportunities is they're everywhere. In fact, you may have had the opportunity of a lifetime present itself this morning, only you weren't prepared enough to take advantage of it, or to even realize it as an opportunity.

The thing about preparation is it illuminates opportunities. Those who prepare relentlessly seem to be in the right place at the right time more often than not. They're able to engage in conversations, share opinions, perform their craft - whatever, wherever, whenever the time is right, without a formal invitation or audience. 

Sure, not all opportunities are equal. You might be sitting next to a department manager on your next flight, while your cousin shares a cab with the CEO. But they can both get your foot in the door, no? Then it's up to you to shine... How prepared are you?

-Chris Butterworth