I listened to a story recently and that was when I had my light bulb moment. Two people—Bob and Richard—veered head to head trying to get a position. Each tried to work, talk, and manipulate their way into this role. They were both qualified, smart, and hardworking, so it was an interesting race to observe. Given their equal strengths, I couldn’t tell who would get the job.
One evening, they were asked to support a charity. They went to a mobile kitchen to help with food distribution, and then something went wrong. There was a fight between two of the people who were being served.
At the time, Richard was in the kitchen helping with the meal preparation while Bob was in the serving line. When the fight broke out, Bob stepped in, physically putting himself in harm’s way to break up the fight and restore order. Marcus, the Business Manager, was walking into the dining area and witnessed everything that happened.
The next morning at their business review, Marcus thanked everyone for their support. In an unseen turn of events, he announced that Bob was getting the promotion. Marcus added that Bob’s leadership skills became clear yesterday when he had to intervene in the serving line fight at the mobile kitchen.
In an instance, it hit me—an image I had forgotten. A memory I had subconsciously buried. A series of words I had once recited but, until now, had forgotten.
“...the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong...but time and chance happen to them all.”
Bob and Richard both had equal strengths and were both qualified to get the promotion, but only one could. Bob did because he happened to be in the right place at the right time to differentiate himself in a task that had seemed completely irrelevant to the role. We often try to show up and outdo others, but I think a better approach is to show up at the right place and right time and outdo ourselves.
When you’ve aligned your strengths and mastered your act, pray the right opportunity comes along and you are there to grab it.