John C. Maxwell: Create Opportunity

When opportunity knocks, will you answer the door … and hold it open for others?
People sometimes ask me when I plan to retire. They seem to think that I “deserve” to take it easy and put my feet up at this stage in my life. Maybe they believe retirement is a prize you win at the end of a long and healthy career.
The truth is that I can’t imagine retirement. My prize is finding more ways to impact others: I just turned 67, and I’m more conscious of the opportunities to do that than ever. It’s a good thing, too, because the possibilities keep coming. There’s a phenomenon I call “success momentum”—the ability to see an opportunity, seize it, capitalize on the success and then jump at the next chance.
Here’s a good way to think about life: Picture yourself walking through a maze. You’ll test all sorts of doors, some of which might take you to new and interesting avenues, some of which might dead-end. If you just keep opening doors and moving forward, eventually you will arrive someplace worthwhile.
You can build success momentum, too. The open doors of opportunity are all around you, but they won’t do you much good unless you learn to see them and recognize when to walk through them. Let’s consider how you can align yourself with the opportunities coming your way, and open doors for yourself.
• Keep walking. On your journey, you won’t find lights illuminating your path or signs stating that your destination nears. You could be on the verge of success and not even know it. Push forward! Perseverance pays. Most people don’t get to the open door because they don’t walk far enough. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “It’s always too early to quit!”
• Keep searching. Try new things. Watch to see what works for others.
• Keep clarifying. It is easy to miss an opportunity if you don’t know what you are looking for. The most successful people wake up each morning with a clear sense of what they want to create in their lives. That clarity of purpose makes it easy to identify a good opportunity.
• Keep working. As Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I love that! Nothing worthwhile in life comes free. If you want bigger and better things, you have to be willing to work for them.
• Keep opening. Too many people get to one door, go through it, and say, “Whew!” They don’t realize that taste of success is really just a nibble. The only advantage of going through the first door is that it leads to a second door. A dozen doors later you are really starting to experience success.