When a life opportunity knocks on your door, what do you do? I have been thinking a lot about this question of late, and how so much of the psychology of happiness and success is dependent on what you do when presented with positive life opportunities. While we don’t always know when a life opportunity will occur, we can mentally prepare for our response when the moment happens. In fact, it is this precise type of response that is what is needed for people seeking happiness, good physical and mental health, and a sense of productivity — anything short of jumping in 100% when new opportunities arise leave us at risk to missing out on potential life-changing events. No, it isn’t “luck” that successful people experience more than the next person, but instead the lay-definition of luck: Being prepared when an opportunity is presented.
The “Cup of Coffee Club”
I recently finished reading “The Cup of Coffee Club,” a book written by Jacob Kornhauser that examines the lives of 11 former professional baseball players who appeared in just one Major League game (similar to the character in the classic movie Field of Dreams). Each player, for a various different reasons, made only one appearance in a game — but each player was ready to go when the opportunity was presented. While it is true that each man’s life dedication to the sport of baseball was rewarded with only one opportunity, it prompted me to think in more widely about the importance of being ready, and to go 100% when your name is called. The Cup of Coffee Club members can look back in sadness and think what could have been, or reflect fondly how being ready to go resulted in the chance and memory of a lifetime — to actually appear in a Major League game, something 99.9% of the population will never know.
During my career I have witnessed both types of athletes (and people) — those who have prepared themselves for the moment, and others who slept at the wheel as a big opportunity knocked. Some might look at the first group as over-achievers by witnessing their eager excitement when presented with a chance in life, and see the second group as under-achievers in the sense that they likely had the talent for success, but not the mindset to get it done. Notice, neither group is better than the other on any significant variable other than simply being prepared for life opportunities.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear that somebody experienced a “lucky break.” Yes, they just may have, but it is what they did with the lucky break that mattered.
Get in a position to score
Another great piece of advice I learned from a successful coach was the simple, yet powerful, advice he would give his athletes: Before you can score, you must get in a position to score. The idea here is that the setup is often the most important aspect to “scoring,” or winning a life battle. Delving even deeper, the setup is preparation — in other words, being fully ready to seize an opportunity.
Scoring in sports is really just a metaphor for scoring in life. There are opportunities around us every day, even if they are not always life-changing. There are opportunities to be kind to others, to help others before being asked to do so, and to take advantage of seemingly insignificant opportunities that could lead to better eventual opportunities. Getting in a position to score in life means having a positive attitude, being optimistic, overcoming fear and self-doubt, and showing sincere appreciation toward those offering a hand. Are you prepared in this moment for the next opportunity that knocks on your door?
They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and you can create your own “luck” by keeping your head in the game for when opportunity knocks. While natural talent is a nice thing to have, taking advantages of life opportunities might be even more important when seeking happiness, health, and a sense of productivity. Stay alert and responsive to the opportunities presented to you, and kick down the door when you hear opportunity knocking.