Reality is not an option
“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; great men make them.”
— Orison Swett Marden
Most people have a serious problem. And they don’t even know about it. It is hidden. It is subtle. It is silently part of every decision that they make and every single word that comes out of their mouths.
Even more, most people focus on the negative side of things. They focus on what is impossible instead of what is possible.
Certainly, some things are unlikely, or even impossible. But why do people focus on what cannot be done?
This hidden problem comes from avoiding the truth that is all around us.
Reality can be harsh and cruel, but it can also be liberating and powerful.
“But We Need a Center”
In 1984, the Portland Trailblazers had the second pick of the NBA Draft. Everyone knew the Houston Rockets would pick Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick of the draft. So the decision for Portland was who to select with the second pick.
Decision makers in Portland were trying to decide between Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan. In trying to make the best decision possible, they called Bob Knight, coach of the Indiana University men’s basketball team, who coached Michael Jordan during the Olympics the prior summer.
Knight was blunt.
“Take Jordan,” said Knight.
“But we need a center.”
“Play him at center,” he responded.
Play him at center.
Knight did not care what Portland thought they needed. He knew who Jordan was.
Portland’s logic won the day. They already had men who could play the two guard positions. They needed a center.
Portland picked Sam Bowie. To this day, Sam Bowie is known as the man who was picked before Michael Jordan.
Portland looked at what it was missing instead of the opportunity that was immediately available.
Perfection is a Lie
“I don’t wait for circumstances to be right. I make them right.”
— Napoleon Hill
Most people wait for the perfect time to move. They want the perfect time to act in order to ensure success.
But circumstances are rarely perfect. And even if it was close, many people still could not recognize the near-perfect opportunity.
One approach is to wait for perfection.
But the most successful people that I know look to take advantage of the opportunity that is right in front of them — instead of waiting for the perfect set of circumstances.
Here is the truth: perfection is a lie. While some people search for the perfect time to act, other people take imperfect circumstances and turn them into the right circumstances.
Stop waiting for the perfect set of circumstances
What can you do now?
Accept Reality Before You Change It
“Until you admit there is a problem, you can’t begin to solve it.”
— John McCormack
One of my great mentors as an attorney loves to share the difference between average lawyers and great lawyers.
The average lawyer, he says, tries to change the facts of the case to fit his theory.
The great lawyer accepts the facts as they are and develops his strategy from the reality that he knows to be true.
The ability to recognize reality does not only apply to lawyers — it applies to everything.
You must learn to accept reality before you can change it. And also before you can move forward.
Every Strength Has a Weakness, Every Weakness a Strength
“Until you can identify the strengths and weaknesses that are uniquely yours, you can’t begin to take advantage of opportunities.”
— John McCormack
I used to think that because I was more introverted than extroverted that I would never be someone who achieved great things. Most of the successful people that I saw around me tended to be the hard-charging, aggressive types who had no fear in new situations. They were not afraid to meet new people or act quickly or decisively. I felt like it took me way too long to be comfortable in most situations — and when I did feel comfortable, it was too late.
I thought this was a weakness that I could not overcome.
I was completely wrong.
- First, there is no weakness that I cannot overcome.
- Second, there is more than one way to become successful.
- Third, this was not a weakness at all.
Here is the truth: every “weakness” has a corresponding strength.
I may have been a little introverted. But I was also a little more patient than some of those people that I was comparing myself to.
I may not have been as aggressive as some people. But I also avoided some of the mistakes that those other people fell into.
I may not have met as many people as the others. But when I did meet people, we developed long-lasting and deep relationships.
I may not have had a bias towards action. But you do not need to be biased towards action in order to be effective. People like me are often better at execution because once we learn to develop planning and strategic skills, we can execute at a higher level. We do not necessarily solve every problem by acting right away.
Every weakness has a corresponding strength.
So STOP focusing on supposed weaknesses. And start focusing on what you CAN do.
Play Center If You Have To
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
— Sun Tzu
Most people only focus on what they cannot do. They do not see the possibilities in front of them. They accept what others say, or believe, or tell them.
Many people are staring at the possibility of drafting Michael Jordan. But they think they need a different type of person. They do not need someone like that. Or an opportunity like that. Or a book like that. Or a person like that.
The cards in your hand might be better than you think.
You might not be able to do everything. But you can do something.
Focus on what you can do — right now.
Stop focusing on what you are missing.
- Or what you need.
- Or what you think everyone else has that you don’t have.
Stop waiting for the perfect circumstances.
- make your current circumstances perfect.
- And start focusing on what you can do right now.
So when you need a center, but your best option is a shooting guard…
Just play the guy at center.
And start winning.