"I’m here to apply for the job you’re advertising in the newspaper,” said my friend.
Standing just inside the door of a local newspaper, he was short of money and looking for a job to help him pay the bills. Young, he and his wife had just moved to a small town in central Kentucky. Any money would help them get on their feet.
The listing he’d read in the back of the classified section mentioned an opening for a carrier (or delivery driver) to drive around in the middle of the night — regardless of weather — and deliver newspapers to the homes of subscribers. Part-time and unusual hours for him, but he was game and needed the cash.
“Oh,” said the receptionist, “you mean the graphic artist job?”
Without hesitation, my friend stepped forward and confidently answered.
“Why yes, I am,” he said — knowing all along he’d been there for a much different job.
And so, like so many others in the world, his life took a dramatic turn because of his courage to recognize and seize an opportunity before him. Today, after years of hard work and self-learning, this very same young man is now is now the publisher of his very own newspaper.
My friend is cut from a very special piece of cloth — but he is not alone.
A book I recently read talked about how a majority of people see opportunities in life — but only a very few act on them. And that, according to the author, makes all the difference in the world. Learning to spot opportunities is a skill. Learning how to get off your butt and creatively apply your talents and efforts is something altogether different.
You see, my friend wasn’t looking for a graphic artist job — but he did know enough to get himself in the door and successfully gain an interview. Once on the inside, he became a quick study of all things related — design, computers and eventually managing people. He also knew if he was going to continue to grow and find new opportunities in life, he’d have to grow far beyond the guy who walked in the door looking for a delivery job.
Then, one day, he walked out of his comfort zone — the one he’d built a solid reputation — and into another field where he knew next to nothing. And in a short time, found success there as well.
I think about this process often. The more I go along in life, the more clearly I see pathways successful people have blazed. Many have failed repeatedly only to get back up on their feet, brush off the dirt and dust, and go back to chasing opportunities again. And one day, they generally get it right.
Success in life — whether in business, love or relationships — is grounded in our ability to move in and out of our comfort zones.
Risk is never without reward. But in the end, we must always be open to the opportunities around us and have the courage to step through those doors. Get uncomfortable and enjoy the ride.