“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities, strong men make them” ~ Orison Swett Marden
I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a big basketball fan. In fact, about the only time I watch basketball is when the Spurs are in the playoffs. Lately however, I couldn’t help but hear a little of the buzz around the young New York Knicks player, Jeremy Lin. I’ve never seen this kid play, but the other day I stopped for lunch at Porky’s and watched his highlight reel. The kid certainly has some mad skills, but so do a lot of other NBA players and I’m not sure if he’s ready to be donned the next Michael Jordan. In fact, I suspect much of the hype about this young man might be because of his Asian descent. Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of Asian names found in the NBA record book and that makes this young man somewhat of an anomaly. It’s just too early to tell how this young man’s career will turn out, as a few games don’t make a career, but it’s certainly off to a great start and I wish him well.
What I want to talk about here are “defining moments”. Everyone has them. If you look back over your past, you will see a few defining moments in your life that really made you who you are and put you at the point where you now find yourself. Some defining moments turn out well, as in the case of Jeremy Lin getting called off the bench to showcase his talent. Other defining moments turn out not so well. It’s all a matter of preparation and having the intestinal fortitude to step up your game when an opportunity comes your way.
That’s what Jeremy Lin was able to do. Certainly he was well prepared after years of playing basketball and countless hours of practice, and when a few other Knicks players went down with injuries, Lin saw a defining moment staring him in the face. He stepped up his game to another level; a level in which none of his coaches had seen before. If they had, there is no doubt he would have been playing in the NBA much sooner. Hours of preparation made him ready for the day when his defining moment came along.
I see this all the time in my sport of choice, Professional Bull Riding. The PBR is made up of the top 40 riders in the world based on points and earnings. However, every few events, riders 31 through 40 get knocked off the circuit and replaced by the next ten riders, giving them a chance to earn their way onto the circuit. Some of those that are called up just aren’t ready to take their game to the next level. When facing the top bulls in the world, it just proves to be more than they can handle and after just a few weeks on the circuit, they find themselves back in the “minor leagues”. Every so often, however, you see a young rider who steps his game up to the next level, rides a few bulls, wins an event or some go-round money and never looks back.
There are two types of defining moments in life, those that just happen – what I call “right place, right time” defining moments; you happen on to the scene of an automobile accident and your quick thinking and ability to remain calm result in saving a life, and the other type is what I call “intentional” defining moments; your dedication to self-development is recognized and results in a nice promotion. This is true for both businesses and individuals. For example, in business an intentional defining moment might be when the decision is made to expand. In our personal life, an intentional defining moment might be when we decide to go back to school to learn a different skill set. In either case, whether a right place, right time defining moment or whether it is an intentional defining moment, the probability of success is predicated on preparation.
Even in the case of a “right place, right time” defining moment, if the preparation isn’t there, the probability of success is diminished. For example, we’ve all heard of someone who won the lottery, but because they were not prepared for it, lacking the skill set to put their good fortune to work for them, they end up in far worse shape than they ever were in before. As strange as it may sound, they simply were not prepared to live life free of debt and simply lacked the financial savvy to manage a large sum of money.
People and businesses that wait for defining moments to happen (right place, right time) experience very few defining moments. They simply amble through life hoping good fortune will come their way. Occasionally it does, but those instances are rare. Luckily for us, we don’t have to wait for a defining moment to happen. We can create our own defining moment through our own diligence and dedication. We can set our sights on what we want to happen and develop and execute a plan to make it happen. Like Jeremy Lin, however, once we’ve put in the work to make a defining moment happen, we have to be ready to take our game to the next level; reach deep down and become more than we ever thought we could become, and seize that defining moment.
Think back on the defining moments in your life. What people, experiences and events impacted your life in ways that transformed your thinking and confirmed the direction of your life? What values were clarified or strengthened in the defining moments in your life? We never want to make the same mistakes twice. What can you learn from past defining moments that will better prepare you for future defining moments?
- A 3 Pointer on Persistence, Passion and Resiliency (myroadlesstraveled.net)
- The Improbable Unbelievable (blogs.tennis.com)