Get Out of Your Own Way

A major key to success is knowing when an opportunity exists. Many times, it is right in front of you. You just have to notice it is there.

The reason we often overlook opportunities is that we instinctively make a decision about something based on self-imposed limits. We have already decided that there is a certain way to cut an apple. We have already decided whether four activities on a weekend is too much, just right, or too little.  We have already decided how much we should get paid (in other words, how much we are worth).

The truth is that there are no real limits. It’s all in our head. We have to get out of our own way.

Writer Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, shared a story about women entrepreneurs all over the world who are breaking out of these preconceived molds and helping others in their community to prosper, too. My favorite line in her speech: never import other people’s limitations. Listen to her inspiring words in this TED video:

[ted id=1339]

The Definition of Luck

An old friend and I were chatting about luck. He isn’t a believer in luck so I posed this formula which I use to define luck:

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

The catch is that we often overlook opportunity because of preconceived notions. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Here are some famous missed opportunities:

  • Decca Recording Company passed on the Beatles, saying “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
  • Digital Equipment Corporation Chairman Ken Olson in 1977, just before the PC revolution said “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
  • Xerox invented the graphical user interface with mouse, not Apple. Xerox just didn’t know what to do with it since the PC market didn’t exist. Apple saw it and ran with the idea.
  • Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPod either. Engineer Tony Fadell couldn’t get Real Networks and Philips (Fadell’s employer) to bite on the idea for a new kind of music player. Jobs did.
  • One of my favorites: 1876 – Chief Engineer of the British Post Office, Sir William Preece, said “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.”

Thomas Edison once said that opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. The fact is that opportunity is everywhere. You only have to look at every situation a little differently – without preconceived notions.