Lucky or Prepared

A little boy wanted a taste of molasses from the large barrel by the door of an old-fashioned country store. He slid a box beside the barrel, stepped up on it and leaned over the rim as far as possible, stretching out his finger toward the sweet goo below. He stretched and strained and toppled headfirst into the barrel.

Dripping with molasses, he stood up, lifted his eyes heavenward and was heard to utter, “Lord, help me to make the most of this fantastic opportunity!”

Most of us will never fall into a barrel of opportunity. We won’t be awarded a great sum of money, we won’t be offered a “dream job,” we won’t have all of our needs suddenly provided for. We can spend years waiting for opportunity to knock only to find that we wasted precious time wishing for something to happen that never was to be.

Yet some people seem to luck into these things, don’t they? It’s as if they were in the right place at the right time and they just fell into it.

But that is not the way it happens. Those people who seize opportunities others seem to miss, find them for one specific reason: they have trained themselves. People who seem more fortunate than the rest of us are those who have taught themselves to look for possibilities in every circumstance and every obstacle.

I think David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, is such a man. Years ago, Boren learned from professional pollsters that he would most likely lose his state gubernatorial race and lose it big. The professional polling agency he hired reported his strength to be only about two percent of the population.

Many people would quit the moment they receive such news. And in truth, that was his first reaction. Could anything good come out of such a bleak situation? But he had trained himself to look for opportunities, even when confronting great obstacles. He stayed in the race and approached his campaign in a different way. He told his listeners, “I had a professional poll taken and it shows I’ve got great potential for increasing my support!”

That may sound a good deal better than it is. But he didn’t give up and people began to listen to what he had to say. Boren eventually won the election and served as governor of the US state of Oklahoma.

People who spot opportunities may simply be people who have trained themselves to look for the best possible outcome in every situation and act on it. It takes a different way of thinking.

My son has just been promoted to be the manager over all IT in his company. Over two-hundred people applied, but they knew him, his work ethic, his dedication to his work, his integrity in all he said and did. He is a truth teller, even when many see it a different way… and I believe his superiors appreciated his truthfulness. He is not a brown-noser by any stretch. His is not lucky… he was prepared for the promotion and his company realized it.

To everyone else it may just look like you’re lucky. But you will know better.

And so, we pray: Father, we have been taught all our lives to be prepared for opportunities that come our way by doing the little things well today… being the person of integrity, even when no one is looking. Amen.

Grace and Peace
Steve

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