Opportunity = Success
Everyone has a different way of measuring success, or greatness. For some it’s social, for others it’s financial, and some prefer a balance of the two. After reading about the historical icon, King Alexander the Great, I had a realization about the commonalities between modern humans and well-known historical legends. The line between the two is very fine, nearly transparent.
Greatness and Talent
Contrary to common belief, no one is born talented. Talent is something learned, practiced, and achieved over time. Some may have an aptitude in their genetics for certain skills, but no one is born a professional. As psychologist Erik Erikson has determined, it takes nearly 10,000 hours to achieve a level of mastery at a certain skill. So, with that in mind, wouldn’t it be possible for an average human to become nearly equally as proficient as one with a genetic aptitude for the skill? For instance, not everyone with an above average IQ becomes successful. It is all about pursuing greatness within us.
For those who find finances a way of measuring success, it may be a shock to find out that 67.7% of people with a net worth of over 30 million dollars are self-made (Wealth-X study, 2018). This means that two thirds of the richest people did not inherit large sums of money from their family, or enter the world into a wealthy family. In some cases, wealthy families may create better opportunities for their kin, but it still doesn’t make it impossible for an average worker to earn as much money as them. For example, well-known automobile businessman Henry Ford didn’t come from a wealthy family and was definitely not a genius. Henry Ford went broke about six times before he successfully got Ford Motors running. For him, success meant work, effort, and determination. After endless hours and just barely scraping by, he was able to achieve greatness, but it was never a natural talent of his. Successful people aren’t determined by a number. The number of zeroes in one’s bank account doesn’t equate to greatness or success. The real defining factor of success is opportunity.
According to a psychological study, true greatness and talent does exist in every person, but it is a human’s choice whether to pursue it or not. This is where the genes come in. For example, a professional athlete may have been raised in an athletic family, but it wasn’t his genes that made him a success. It was the upbringing, constant practice, and pressure from his surrounding peers that made him so great. Starting the focus of sports at such a young age makes it impossible to feel like there are other options for a life path. Most athletes start practicing some sport as a child, and condition their bodies to constant practice and growth as an athlete because that is what is expected of them. The opportunity of being born with an athletic culture surrounding one’s life can be used or can just as easily be forgotten.
The unfortunate side about opportunities, is the difficulty of finding them. They are not displayed in a bright and flashy way right in front of us, nor are they directly handed to us. Most times, opportunities are missed because they are hidden between other challenges or tasks. Life is all about choices, and some may lead to more opportunities than others.
Some opportunities can be frightening, too good to be true, or in business, expensive. They often require a great deal of thought and courage due to their high level of risk. However, the most successful people will take the risks, even if they end poorly, because the learnings gained along the way are beneficial. Due to today’s media coverage, opportunities are often portrayed in a positive and development-focused light, which is why they may seem worth it. Unfortunately, not all opportunities will be worthwhile. Some are too risky, but without trying you wouldn’t know or learn. Others are sacrifices that can cost a person too much time, money, or interests. Not all opportunities are worth taking, but that doesn’t mean they should be avoided entirely.
Alexander the Great
Greatness comes with experience, as mentioned earlier. Alexander the Great, a well-known military leader and king from the 300 BC time period. In his short life, he achieved so much and most of it was from opportunities he chose to pursue.
At a young age of 16 he led a military force to crush a Greek revolt. By the time he was 18, he had led numerous military forces and stopped many revolts from interfering with Macedonia. His name was spreading like wildfire and it was only time before he was named King of Macedonia. His quick-thinking skills allowed him to utilize any resources available, which was intelligent because not all situations were as fortunate. These skills that he learned over time and gained from various experiences helped him as he eventually became king at 20 years of age.
One of Alexander’s most memorable challenges was the invasion of Persia. It required both mental and physical strength for a result in success. Alexander was faced with a dilemma of remaining patient, something he struggled with. His army had to wait an ideal amount of time for support and determine the right time for invasion. After the successful invasion, Alexander was left with time to thoroughly plan and prepare for his next attack. This simple opportunity of additional time he noticed was a smart observation, because it helped him advance on future regions. In just one battle, his army only lost 200 men compared to the opposing militia who lost nearly 18000. This additional time also meant strategizing, training, and recuperating for his soldiers.
Other battles were not as easily fought. The city of Tyre in Phoenicia was a stretch of resources and soldiers, and took a hard hit on Alexander’s army. After a difficult win, he continued to advance on Egypt in 331 BC. A second encounter with Darius from Persia was a surprise, however, did not slow down Alexander or his men. The drive found in Alexander was from his motivation and desire to succeed. His countless number of wins over the Asian and African continents proved their benefits because Alexander learned new strategy from each attack. The opportunity to fight Darius for a second time proved Alexander’s knack for detail because he could almost predict Darius’ next moves and made it an easier win for Macedonia.
Unfortunately, Alexander the Great passed away at only 32 years old due to an illness he contracted. His legacy of strength and determination are a great example that should be remembered more often. As Alexander would often say, ‘I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity.’
Obviously in today’s world there are less military legends, however the same theory of opportunity can be applied. While conducting business, there are countless risks and choices that will need to be made along the way. Each choice made will determine the business’ future and each opportunity pursued will lead to a different outcome. Some opportunities may lead to new contacts and ideas, others to expensive risks. All in all, no business will succeed without the utilization of opportunities or risks.
Clifford, C. ‘Nearly 68% of the world’s richest people are ‘self-made’ says news report’. Make It CNBC. Accessed 16 August 2021. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/26/majority-of-the-worlds-richest-people-are-self-made-says-new-report.html
Patrick, S. 2013. Alexander the Great: the Macedonian who conquered the world