Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Skill up. Step Up. Show up.

Picture of a Businessman jumping  because he spots an opportunity others miss.Blank … blank …

That’s what filled my mind as I stared at the screen of my laptop, wondering what my words for today were going to be. I needed to write a piece and couldn’t find the inspiration to do it.

Blank … blank … 

My mind turned up nothing as I tried harder to force myself to write. Should I draw from a past experience or talk about a story from the bible? Should I relate it to something I saw happen or create a fiction right from scratch?

Blank … blank, again

Then suddenly, a light bulb came on. Something I heard that has stuck in my mind; something that I read many years ago that has defined my life in many ways:

“The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong but time and chance happens to them all”

The concept of time and chance was taught to me very early by my parents. They told me when I was just a little girl about how to achieve success in life. Much of what they said and did mirrored the simple principle of life that whatever the situation and wherever I found myself, I should give it my best shot and make the most of every opportunity. And I listened.
Growing up, every time I happened to come across an opportunity to do something I wanted, I went all out and did it to the best of my ability. And whenever I tried to do something and it didn’t work out the way I had hoped, I just waited for another opportunity to do it again. 

As I grew older, I saw another side of this time and chance concept. Someone who was absolutely not the best fit for a job was asked to do it just because she (or he) was the only one available at the time. And that taught me another lesson—not just to be able to do things well but also to show up where and when it matters. So, after I had spent hours rehearsing for the school French play to ensure I could do perform a key role well, when my teacher asked whoever wanted to do a televised drama to stay after school, I was the first to show up. I made my pitch and got the role.

Much of what I learnt as a child, I have taken into my adult life, especially my work life, and it has paid off handsomely. Every employer’s dream is to have capable hands show up when it matters. There’s no point being the best at the job if you happen to be out of the office the day the boss needs someone to do something urgently. The person available will be called on, not you. And there is also no point being at work on the day the boss needs someone to do something urgently if you haven’t learnt to do your job well or if you don’t step up and take a chance.

Look back in the annals of history; many people who we have come to admire now were men and women who happened to be at the right place, at the right time, and with the right skills to make the most of an opportunity that presented itself: scientist who made great discoveries, musicians who created great pieces, colleagues who got promotions, politicians who ascended to power—even bible heroes that conquered cities! Most of these people became famous by being at the right place at the right time. 

Can you then say that being successful is based on destiny or some randomness in life? I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is, if you are skilled, prepared, and show up where you should be and make the best of every opportunity you have, you will be successful.

There are some elements of destiny in every person’s life, which cannot be controlled, so hope and pray these are in your favor. And there are some elements of randomness in every person’s life, which cannot be controlled, so hope and pray they are in your favor too. What you can control is how you respond to both.
Skill up, show up, step up, and grab every opportunity that comes your way, and make the most of it. Funny thing about life—it may not come your way again.

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