In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell attempts to describe the key to success. While reading the book a couple of things caught my attention. There are two factors that seem to enable success:
- Success comes when opportunity exists
- Success comes when individuals takes advantage of opportunities
The fact of the matter is that opportunity can exist and yet you remain unsuccessful. But, without opportunity, try as you might it is unlikely that you will be successful. Furthermore, whether opportunities come our way or not is out of our control.
That may sound like an extreme statement. You may think about the inspirational movies that you’ve seen: movies where the most unlikely person defeats all the odds and becomes successful. They pulled themselves up, defied conventional wisdom and they made it. People said they couldn’t do it, and yet they did. Aren’t those stories contradictory to the idea that without opportunity you can’t be successful? Aren’t they contradictory to the idea that opportunity is out of our control?
Unfortunately, no they are not. Gladwell never says that successful people don’t have to overcome adversity and extreme odds. He does say that with the right opportunities and determination you can be successful. So Rudy lived near Notre Dame and had a job at the university that gave him access to the football field, players, and staff. If he were born and raised in Oklahoma, there is no way he would have ever achieved his dream. In fact, he likely would not have ever dreamed it. On the other hand, Rudy could have been born in the same place and had exceptional football skills. Yet, if he lacked the determination to try, he may have never played a game on that field. Opportunity and effort. These are the things that Rudy and so many others relied on to be successful.
So, what do we do with this information? We look for the opportunities that we have received, and we take advantage of them. We leverage them to achieve success. Perhaps with other opportunities, we could have achieved more or done something bigger. Those opportunities didn’t come, so let it go. You have your own opportunities. What will you do with them? Will you ignore them and be upset over the opportunities that someone else got, but you didn’t? Or, will you take those opportunities, understand the potential success they make possible, and apply yourself? Will you strive for success?
If you are curious to learn more about this concept, I encourage you to buy Gladwell’s book today and read it.. I found it fascinating. Just ask my wife! I think she’s heard about it enough.
[note style=”info” show_icon=”true”]Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”[/note]