I recently had an experience that seemed to epitomize many things in life, including business.
A couple months ago, the leaves were changing. The showing of fall colors tends to be short-lived here in Colorado, because the cold air and strong winds quickly come and whisk them away.
There is a particular horse pasture less than two miles from my house, that I wanted to photograph in it’s autumnal glory. A stand of tall Cottonwood trees lines the far edge of the pasture, and I wanted to capture an image of the horses in front of those trees.
The first time I stopped by to take pictures, the horses were in the pasture, but I had missed the prime light. It was too late in the evening, and the sun had sunk below the horizon. The trees were no longer illuminated, and they cast dark shadows upon the field.
I knew I needed to arrive earlier, so I tried again. This time I got there just as the magic hour was beginning. The light was great, but the horses were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were in the part of the field not visible from the road, or perhaps they were in the stable. I took a few pictures, but they were dull; simply lacking the subject that my artistic vision demanded.
So I continued the quest, driving by the field several more times with no luck. Each time, either the horses were not out, or the lighting was all wrong.
I really wanted to capture the late afternoon sun filtering through the golden leaves of the Cottonwoods, creating a backlight effect, and rendering a warm glow upon the horses in the foreground.
Finally I was faced with the possibility of making a final attempt to get the picture that I was after. It was the evening before I was due to leave for a trip to Israel. I was short on time, yet I knew this would be my last chance this year.
The leaves were at their prime, and sure enough… the day after we left for Israel, our neighborhood experienced its first snow storm of the season… and the colors were gone.
I’m glad that I seized that final opportunity, as it proved to be the one that paid off.
The horses were out, the lighting was perfect, and the leaves were aglow.
I got the shots I had envisioned, including these…
I was already happy with the results, but then something “magical” happened. Three bears arrived to the scene, sauntering along the creek that runs behind the horse pasture.
At first when I took this picture, I didn’t even notice the mama bear and her two cubs in the background…
Suddenly what had already been a good photo shoot turned into something really unique!
I was in the right place at the right time, and I had the opportunity to capture images that no one else was there to capture.
(View more photos and full size here on Google+)
So was it my persistence that paid off? Or was it pure luck that I showed up at the same time as three bears… something the neighbors hadn’t seen in decades?
I propose that it was a combination of both.
Now, before I explain what I mean… it’s important to note that I don’t really believe in “luck” in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t think that everything is just random, or determined by chance.
You might be surprised to know that the words “blessed are those” in the beatitudes (from the Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus in Matthew 5-7) can be alternately translated as “lucky are those.”
In other words, luck could also be defined as an appropriation of divine blessing.
In my years of studying sales and marketing, I’ve read countless stories of highly successful entrepreneurs who considered luck to be one of the keys to their success. Hard work? Yes. Determination? Absolutely. But at some point along the way, they got lucky.
The Roman philosopher Seneca (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD) is credited with the quote: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
In the example of my photo shoot with the horses, I had prepared to take those photos. I then persisted, when the opportunity failed to present itself.
Finally, when the opportunity materialized, I was able to sieze the lucky moment, because I had prepared and positioned myself to do so.
The same principle applies to your business. In The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship, William D. Bygraves wrote:
“In entrepreneurship, it is a question of recognizing a good opportunity when you see one and having the skills to convert that opportunity into a thriving business. To do that, you must be prepared.”
Where the opportunity actually comes from, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. In the case of three bears showing up to my photo shoot, it seems like more than a coincidence.
As always, you are welcome to leave your comments below.
Have a great day!