“Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” – Seneca
Too often we mistake luck with opportunity. While luck is a chance occurrence, opportunity is a chance for advancement. They may sound the same, but they have a critical difference: preparation.
Leonora Santillas is from the Philippines. Her father drives a trike (a motorized tricycle that serves as a small taxi) and their family’s opportunities are limited. Yet today Leonora is in her third year at the top law school in the country, on a scholarship funded by the Unicity Make Life Better Foundation.
Leonora is only one of many high-performing Filipino students who have been chosen for this scholarship program. Based strictly on referral, the scholarship covers tuition costs at top universities for future change makers.
While it may look like luck or a series of chance occurrences launched her into this prized position, preparation is what led Leonora to where she is today. By funding scholarships for hard-working and resilient students, the Unicity Make Life Better Foundation demonstrates how preparation can lead to great opportunity.
How can we cultivate preparation in our lives and transition from wishing for lucky breaks to finding more opportunities to succeed? We can start with resilience, hard work, and building a strong network.
Resilience is the human ability to adapt to difficult situations. It is often characterized by remaining calm in the midst of disaster or tackling challenges head on. While resilience may come easier to some people, we can all develop resilience by reframing our negative thoughts to be actionable, positive ideas.
Another way to build resilience is by challenging ourselves. When we master a new skill or conquer a tough goal, we are teaching ourselves that we have the ability to succeed, that we can do hard things—this is resilience.
Thomas Edison once said that “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Edison famously failed over 1,000 times before inventing a light bulb that worked. He knew how to work.
Hard work always sounds like a good idea, but sometimes we can get mired in procrastination and lack of focus. Try surrounding yourself with hard-working people or read about famous hard workers to inspire you.
To keep your focus, eliminate distractions. Make the decision once by putting unnecessary devices on “do not disturb” and closing tabs. This way you won’t have to debate whether to check your phone or personal email with every chime you hear.
And remember, the discipline to work hard in one aspect of your life can transfer to others—so it’s really the gift that keeps on giving.
The more people you know, the more opportunities you encounter. Building a network is more than adding friends on social media or talking to people on public transport. A network of people who have been successful in your current industry is incredibly valuable. A diverse network is also helpful, especially if you want to learn more about different careers and ideas.
If you are starting out in a new field, or thinking of making a career change, try asking successful people questions like, “What is it like in your world?” or “What would you recommend to help me prepare?” The time invested to build a strong and diverse network will serve you your whole life.
Leonora has demonstrated resilience by overcoming many challenges and hardships in her life. She has learned how to work hard by studying and working in social work. She gained a strong, diverse network by volunteering in multiple venues. She wants to use her knowledge and new skills to bring justice to the underprivileged in the Philippines. Her influence will only grow in the years ahead, and the world is lucky to have her in it.