Persistence or Luck? A Story of Three Real Bears

By | December 22, 2011

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!

112 thoughts on “Persistence or Luck? A Story of Three Real Bears

  1. Pete Kici

    well spoken
    Many people fail to see the opportunities that are right in front of them always looking beyond the obvious.The long slow grind to the top is often over looked in place of the fast easy way hence the next shiny object.
    nothing is easy and if it is it’s usually short lived,dedication and persistence are the foundation to the luck factor.
    Even if your first attempt at the pictures worked out you may have missed the bears.
    Point is even in the most difficult situation arises a lesson that can be carried on to greater accomplishment in what ever your doing.
    Thank you
    Pete Kici

  2. Sue McDonald

    Hi Eric

    What great pictures it seems you were in the right place at the right time on this day.

    Thank you for sharing the beauty of nature.



  3. Carol Amato

    Wow, engaging story, beautiful photos and thought-provoking lesson!

    I’ve come to NOT be surprised by this when I visit your site – great piece, thanks for sharing!

  4. Bruce Fraser

    Hi Eric,

    Really enjoyed your blog, both content and pictures. Must say you have nailed it. Luck is not to be counted on. Preparation and perservance must prevail.

    The very best in 2012!

    Bruce Fraser

  5. Anonymous

    Great photos….and no drama with the bears and horses..obviously co existing in nature…and enjoying the scenery.

    Best wishes

  6. JB

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!
    Great Pictures!
    You are right, no such thing as luck, everything happens for a reason, the Master’s reason!
    Happy New Year!

  7. Jim Myers

    Impressive!!! Did the mommy bear leave the horses alone, or did she decide that lunch was in order for her and the cubs?

  8. Martha Rader

    Your pictures are wonder-filled and a perfect vehicle for the lesson. Wishing you and your family and loved ones a blessed Christmas. Hoping next year will be a better year for everyone.
    Sincerely, Martie Rader

  9. Len

    Don’t have a website have tried many times but can never get it right and end up in the red, so I quit trying to make money online.
    Eric I saved your pictures to my computer for future reference I paint part time but am disabled so never get to go out like that to get pictures. I should have done it when I was younger and not disabled. Hope you don’t mind they are only reference I will not publish them. Thank you Len. P.S If you do mind let me know and I’ll delete them. Thank You Mary Christmas.

  10. Vern Brown

    What a “blessing” and being there to capture it. Time and again we seem to pass up opportunities that could/should turn out to be “blessings” in disguise. That could even go for the internet – in that we are constantly coming accross ‘stuff’ that is available to entrepreneurs [us]. What we do with it is ‘our’ choice! i.e. sell or ‘giveaway’?? Just part of ‘our’ responsibility as “givers” and not ‘takers-only’.
    Have a BLESSD CHRISTmas, all of you!!

  11. Martha Rader

    Your pictures are wonder-filled and a perfect vehicle for the lesson. Wishing you and your family and loved ones a Blessed Christmas. I am hoping that next year will be a better year for everyone. Sincerely, Martie Rader

  12. Len

    One more comment
    Bears are Predators so it’s a wonder the horses let them get that close. Amazing

  13. Stephanie

    What great pictures, and I absolutely agree about persistence. If I had given up on my business because it took so long to get going, I would have missed out on some great times with it.

  14. Jerry A Warnke

    I don’t believe in luck. Secular folks call it that but there’s also a scriptural statement, paraphrasing, GOD makes it to rain on the just and the unjust alike. Some recognize the “source” and some don’t. I choose GOD. 34&1/2 yeas ago AA got me to GOD & GOD got me to AA. I stopped trying to figure out how that happened, I’m just grateful HE chose to pull my sorry rump out of that. I will issue the caution however, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. I wouldn’t wish what I’ve gone through on anyone, but being on “the other side”, thank GOD there’s a GOD. Now @ 69 I need to resurrect my finances.

    Go well & GOD bless.

  15. Michaela

    Eric, you are a great story teller… and the picture are beautiful.
    I also like the parallel with our work as Internet Marketers.
    I happen to believe the things happen for a reason… and the persistence is the name of the game
    Thanks so much
    Merry Christmas, and a healthy. prosperous New Year.

  16. Debbie Gauthier

    What a great interpretation of the results of preparation with the persistance to stay the course. This is the definition of a devoted successful home based business owner. Great pics with animals in their natural habitat. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  17. Bill Fontaine

    Certainly a mega moment for a photographer…..luck or no luck. Thanks for sharing the pictures…..I love doing that kind of thing myself.

    For me, it’s more preparation meeting opportunity than any thing else..

    In any event, your photos are great. Thanks again.

  18. Janny

    This is a great example of ‘what you concentrate on grows’. The bears must be well fed and happy for the horses to be just curious with them. It’s great to see them like this in the wild. We don’t have bears in Australia. All the best for the season to you and your family.

  19. Will

    Beautiful! I do agree that luck has nothing to do with it. A great South African golfer, winner of many PGA’s, Mr Gary Player once said: The more you train (prepare for that big moment), the luckier you get.
    Seasons Greetings to you and yours and to all the readers.

  20. Nombulelo

    Hi Eric
    It was so good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing the wonder of nature and the lessons therein for us. What lovely pictures! I agree persistence combined with luck eventually opens the door as long as one keeps the eye on the ball. That is exactly what I’m trying to do. Currently facing some challenges the solution for which is outside my control, but remaining determined that when the anointed time comes, I will be ready to seize the opportunity to actualize my dream of a successful business I continue to prepare myself for that time. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement you give always and for the opportunities you continually present for that to happen.

    I wish you a blessed holiday time with your lovely family and an even better New Year in 2012.


  21. Grant Callant II

    Thanks for that Eric. I have never heard that alternate translation for “Blessed are those.” Kind of interesting to think about. I guess God wants to bless us, but he just needs us in the right place at the right time, and that is where like you said the persistence and preparation goes into account.

    I’ll remember that. God bless you and your family this Christmas.



  22. Phil Cullum

    There’s more to life than business, as we need to all remember. Thanks for reminding us of the wonders of the world we live in.

  23. Gerry Griffin

    Hi Eric: Well done!, excellent pictures capturing a magical moment, and then the surprise bonus of the Momma Bear and cubs, by the way Black Bears are vegetarian, the Horses
    knew that. Thanks for sharing, and Happy Holidays to you, and your lovely Wife, and five beautiful children.

  24. Jeanne

    Eric, Great quote from Seneca! That will be hanging on my wall VERY soon. Very simple but very powerful!!! Your photography is beautiful!!! Thanks for it all!!! Jewelry Jeanne

  25. Toni

    What absolutely stunning photos. I can feel your passion to take just the right picture as my camera and I are joined at the hip and I have more photos of trees, sunlight filtering through, sunsets, than people. You are right too… perseverance and persistence are biblical truths, and our lives if yeilded to God are directed by Him, and nothing is by chance. Things don’t happen because we don’t allow them to.

  26. Jeanette

    WOW!! I love the photos. I can identify with you about persisting for the right shot, and then the thrill when you get an added bonus. I will remember the lesson you’ve shared.

  27. Vickie

    Eric, thank you so much for sharing with us! The pictures were wonderful. I, too, am grateful for your persistence. I pray that you & your family have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy & happy New Year. God’s sweetest blessings to you, Eric!

  28. Roy Grogan

    Great article and photo capture of nature at its best. Congratulations. Might I take the liberty to add a quotable quote of my own penning for you and your readers.

    “Windows of Opportunity and Necessity, are two of the most powerful inspirations and motivational tools which the entrepeneur thrives on. If the mind is un-receptive and inert – nothing will move the body to achieve greatness”. Roy W Grogan

  29. steven guy

    Hi eric great photos. yes i agree but will say that there is so much trash out their its people like you that loose out in away because realy the people that don’t give quality but a good sales pitch at the beginning can rob you . so the likes of me only a little internet experience can fall for the wrong business. for instance the likes of DB system its great on the screan but they dont show you tueth and nail the ins and outs of the business so yes i can get a good website going but fined it hard to get it to convert is difficult. your system however was great but again my marketing knowlege is crap so lost idears also found it hard to set things up properly in aweber. However don’t get me wrong when i got your system it was the real deal and i did learn a lot so thanks. Steve

  30. Bob

    Fan-tas-tic pics, how beautiful… both the natural scenic views and those gorgeous horses. Wow!

    Thanks for sharing with us… it’s very hard to get “Good News” anymore!

  31. Jack Fernandes

    Beautiful pictures and story.
    Wishing you the best during the Holiday Season and
    a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
    God bless.


  32. Jimmy Cook

    Serendipity, my friend, things that happen more often than chance would dictate which leads me to believe in divine providence.

    There’s a lot of truth in that saying “the lord helps those that help themselves”

    You helped yourself by being persistent and now you share your bounty with us.

    Thank You!
    Merry Christmas
    Happy and Healthy New Year

  33. Shawn

    Wow even without the bears they are awesome shots of the horses and the fall colors! Perfect for framing. My 10-year old daughter who rides thinks they are great too!

    Merry Christmas!
    Shawn (from Castle Rock, CO)

  34. Tami-Jo Saunders

    You know you are right about persistence and hard work but I still believe that luck has a part to play in it too. (or maybe it’s that “aha” moment that we all need….)

  35. Barbara

    We don’t get to see bears in South Australia,all the photos are exceptional, love them.
    Merry Xmas all.

  36. Nick W Wiese

    at age 23 I was surveying in Yakatat Alaska,and encounted a sow grizly bear with 2 coubs at say 300 lbs each, she moved toward me from 30 ft. distance. We ran, jumped,slid and make it into a brick school, very scared and were conserned about the children at recess!we were told thts Susie, they come here at recess time because the children feed them. we were the outsiders,these bears live at the garbage dump down the road a bit, sorta makes you wonder?huh I am 60 now lots of details missing.

  37. Christina Saunders

    I love your pictures!!!
    Persistence, determination and desire do pay-off. So does knowledge, skill and an eye for beauty…
    Keep it up… and will look forward to seeing other inspiring images from you.
    Kind regards,

  38. Stela

    Hi Eric,

    I love the story. Last Monday, I found a multicoloured parrot. It was such wonder for me. As I was living in an apartment building, I don’t know what to do. I stayed with it for almost 3 hours and feeding it. It started to rain and it doesn’t want to get down so I had to pull its tail down. It followed to my apartment but once it reached the grill door of my apartment it started to climb up making happy sound. You believe it the kind of feeling I had for that 4 hours. It was amazing and I could still feel. The management office come and tried to catch it. It flew back to the porch again. This time a neighbour came and offered a stick and it climbed over and we took to the management office. They told me that they would keep it until someone comes for it. I offered to keep with their permission of course. They said they will inform later. I visited the bird whom I called Ellie, she ( I think so) is in good hands.

    It has been almost 4 days, I still have this amazing feeling. I think this is my best Christmas present ever.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Have a Blessed Christmas.




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