Preparation, Opportunity & Success

Success is often defined as when opportunity meets preparation. Pretty simple a definition, however varying parts of multiple moving units compounds the components that make up success.

Simply put:

Preparation + Opportunity = Success.

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Preparation as a single entity is not so straightforward. For instance, Malcolm Gladwell iterates a 10, 000hr rule; which claims that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, to a large extent is practicing for about 10, 000hrs. This constitutes part of the preparation phase.

While preparation is key, adequate preparation is more important. With advancement in technology and a mere understanding of what goal is to be achieved, it is important that as a person, you don’t commit your 10,000hrs in a generation where there are faster ways to burn through 10,000hrs. What I’m saying in plain words is, with technology we shouldn’t waste more time on things that technology has created solutions for us in timelier fashions.

An outlier 20 years ago might have spent 20,000hrs on what an outlier in today’s generation will spend 10,000hrs completing due to advancements in technology and improvements in achieving results.

Preparation isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes discipline, commitment, perseverance, patience, tolerance and a vast range of qualities. There’ll be reasons to quit, pull your hair out, but to strive to the level of extreme skill; you will need to keep at it.

It isn’t just for entrepreneurs. Within the corporate ladder, it is the hours of commitment that distinguish you from peers. And while sometimes there seem to be unfair rewards to less prepared individuals for menial reasons.

Smart work, and not hard work is essential. While to carry out smart work, it is important to work hard at it, working hard in order to carry out hard work is twice the burden.

Preparation cuts through various parts of an individual including interpersonal and communication skills, which are very mandatory. Preparation for some digs deep into the families they are born into, institutions they attend, events they are present at, families they marry into, just to mention a few. These all play a key role in preparation from another viewpoint.

Your network is a true reflection of your potential net worth. This is the reason many people invest in social capital.

Opportunity on the other hand is mostly perceived as an uncontrollable circumstance that creates a possibility of something being done. While this is partially true, many believe it in entirety. I agree with every part of that definition apart from the keyword uncontrollable. With evidence, it is indeed possible to create opportunity. This might not be a 100% guarantee, however it beats a 0% one, where things are left to fate.

When you work in a system where you wait for opportunity to present itself, you must have a good eye for it. The thing with opportunity is that even though it cloaks itself in the same attire, some are blind to it; some are myopic, while others are hyperopic to it. This is one thing that separates a visionaries from a could-have been the ability to spot opportunity.

Some spot it before everyone else; others when it’s pretty visible and the rest wouldn’t even identify it if it slapped them in the face. This is why various people have been in the same situation, but the ability to spot opportunity was the one thing that differentiated them.

Others are proponents of creating opportunity. These individuals definitely are not proponents of the ˜Good things come to those who wait” mantra as they work to create their own luck. Sometimes, this results from getting tired of waiting or tired of following conventional methods to get things done. Steve Jobs for example quit working at Atari to start Apple with Steve Wozniak. Jay Z got tired of trying to convince record labels to sign him and created Rock-A-Fella records with Damon Dash and Kareem Burke.

Spotting opportunity comes from a high level of information assimilation, intelligence, and understanding, amongst other things. Without knowledge, you would not be able to discern an opportunity from just any other occurrence.

And this loops it back into the fusion of both parts.

Knowledge is built with consumption of tons of information. Wisdom is discerning which information is appropriate in what situation. This is simultaneously a key part in the preparation phase and also a key part in the opportunity phase.

Success, however is a relative term. To some it is financial, to others, it is achievements, and to many it is approval of some sort. I won’t dabble into success because i’d leave it for anyone reading this post to have his or her own definition of success.