There’s a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Whether it’s meeting a new love, being introduced to a future employer or just scoring a free drink, timing can be everything.
Some refer it as dumb luck, others as serendipity, while the bitter few simply call it unfair.
But whichever way you look at the chance encounters people have, the encounters in themselves do not provide the springboard for success. To be in the right place at the right time is simply an invitation to seize an opportunity for yourself.
As Ray Kroc, the entrepreneur who took McDonald’s from a local fast food chain to a booming global business, said, the two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.
Kroc was a travelling milkshake machine salesman when he first met the McDonald brothers. He sold them a handful of mixers for their local burger shops and saw the potential their simple setup had.
Spotting an opportunity, he initially offered to work as a franchising agent before eventually buying out the owners completely. The rest is history, as he went on to build one of the most profitable businesses in the world.
“The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.”
– Ray Kroc
Unfortunately, the second ingredient in Kroc’s recipe for success is where a lot of people fall down: doing something about it. Seeing your idol and not saying hello. Catching interested eyes across the bar and not walking over to say hello. Being offered an introduction and not following up.
These are opportunities that may never present themselves again.
And because you can’t manufacture being in the right place at the right time, recreating these opportunities is impossible. You must act when you have the chance, because acting on an opportunity is the only part of Kroc’s equation for success that you can control.
It’s acting on spontaneous opportunities that separates the quick ladder climbers from the laggards, the entrepreneurs from the employees, and the very successful few from the mediocre masses.
This is why Kroc’s observation perfectly distils the path to success.
It’s not just about being in the right place at the right time. In fact, it’s not about this at all, because this is out of your control. Success is about doing something about your situation: acting on opportunities to accelerate your career, your education, your personal profile or your business.
And if you don’t, you have nobody to begrudge or blame for failing to fulfil your potential but yourself.
The opportunities are yours, what you do with them is up to you. So when you find yourself in the right place at the right time, do something about it.
Image: Matthew G, via Flickr