“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

That’s a quote attributed to Seneca in a post at Philosiblog with the same title.

The immediate implication of the phrase is that one should get ready in advance of the opportunities appearing. Get yourself prepared!

Great advice, for many situations.

The other part is to watch for and jump at opportunities.

The post at Philosiblog spends most of the discussion on the part that is missing from the saying, which is the action necessary to apply preparation to opportunity.

That missing connection is the best part of the quote.

Left out of the comment is the tremendous burden on you to take action when opportunity appears. Getting left on the dock when the most wonderful ship you’ve ever seen pulls away from the pier is a tragedy.

I think the beauty of the saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” is actually the missing part.

There is a huge question mark in the comment –

How does one connect preparation to opportunity?

What do you do with preparation?

How do you recognize opportunity?

All the preparation of a lifetime and the greatest opportunity in the world are a waste without your effort to connect them.

One of the astounding things in the radical change taking place is that opportunities surround us.

Barriers to entry are gone – opportunities are everywhere

The phrase ‘barriers to entry’ is used to describe the obstacles one must overcome before entering a new business. To start a steel company requires investing an incredibly huge amount of money to build a steel plant.

In the olden days, say 15 years ago, publishing a book meant you had to get an agent, who had to get your book in front of a publisher, who had to decide your book would make them tons of money by pushing the book out to bookstores, who had to decide to put your book on the shelf for a couple of weeks because they thought it would make them tons of money. If you couldn’t clear all those barriers, you wouldn’t get into print. After clearing those barriers, if your book wasn’t a quick hit, it would hit the $1.99 remainder stack then disappear forever and you wouldn’t get another book published ever.

The barriers to entry for journalism, publishing, and recording music used to be huge. Today they are essentially zero.

Anyone can start a blog and become a journalist. With effort you could start moving opinion on an issue. Effort to move an issue is not a barrier to entry; having a platform is.

Anyone can write a book and publish it where people can buy it at a price you set. Gatekeepers to keep you out are gone from the picture. Anyone can push a book out to Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iTunes store.

Anyone can record a song and make it available in many places on the internet.

Anyone can do those things for free or just a couple of dollars. All it takes is your effort.

Seriously, free is an option. You could do those things for no out-of-pocket costs. Well, you do have to have access to a computer and the ‘net.

Anyone with gourmet cooking skills can start a restaurant in a mobile food truck.

Need I continue?

The barriers to entry in so many areas of life have disappeared. I’ve written lots of posts on the open frontiers that surround us in so many areas.

Please take action! Apply your preparation to the huge opportunities that surround you.

Who is this Seneca?

Philosiblog quotes Seneca frequently. I wondered, who’s he?

As a fascinating side trip, I learned he was a Roman philosopher and writer during the time of the New Testament; born 4 BC, died 65 AD from a possibly forced suicide.

His brother, Gallio, was a Roman proconsul who heard charges against the apostle Paul described in Acts 18:12-17. He tossed the case out, telling the leaders and Paul to settle the matter themselves. Said settlement didn’t go well for one particular religious leader who wound up getting a beating. Gallio didn’t care about that either.

As an aside, and as a commentary on the power of the ‘net, I learned that information about Seneca and his brother with, oh, about 4 minutes of research.

Update: I commented on the post over at Philosiblog. Part of the reply from Mr. Philosiblog was: 

Opportunity is not just knocking in many fields, but pleading on the doorsteps of everyone.


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