What can I tell you about me that you don’t already know? Well if you read my ‘About Me’ or my ‘Gravatar’ Profile then you have a fairly good idea of who I am, what I am about and where I am coming from. If you don’t, then I can tell you that I have always been a forwarding looking person from Boy to Man. I have always known what I wanted to do, whether that was wanting to join The Royal Navy as a boy or later on being involved in Computing/Data Processing (as IT/ICT used to be called many years ago.) I have always known what I wanted to do. And while I achieved some of those aims (like working in IT,) there are others I didn’t achieve. This has always bothered me and made me feel like a failure.
I later learned that even though I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do, I didn’t have a strategic plan nor was I doing anything in the ‘Present’, as my mind was firmly rooted in the ‘Past’ and ‘Future’ and not in the ‘Present’ where you need to be to make things happen. I also learned that whatever happened in the ‘Past’ is long dead. There is no way I should be looking over my shoulder and being influenced by what happened years ago. As with the ‘Future’ as good as it is to know which direction and which road to take when you reach a ‘Crossroads’, it means little if your mind is not firmly rooted in the ‘Present’, which is where one needs to be to make anything happen. If one wants to experience the next great adventure, the next big opportunity.
I do occasionally look back at how I got here. And when I do, I find it hard to believe I am the well-rounded type of man I am. How I have turned out so well, in spite of (unintentionally,) working so hard to screw things up and make life harder than it needed to be.
There have been so many times when things went horribly wrong. Very wrong. I failed to get ridiculously high-paying jobs, despite clearly having the skill, qualifications, attitude and aptitude. Failed to impress senior management at a market research company I worked for eight years. Then found myself out of work, eventually penniless, virtually bankrupt and not knowing where the next job or pay cheque was coming from – And this was even before I embarked on an Acting Career! The one thing I didn’t lose was my family thankfully. They have been my ‘Rock’; my ‘Support’ on what has been a very rocky journey. Despite all the ill-fortune, badly thought-out strategies, things always seem to work out in the end. I don’t have a fortune in the bank, I don’t drive a car, I still have creditors to deal with but somehow, things always seem to be worked out. And they always seemed to work themselves out when I focus on the ‘Here’ and ‘Now’.
There is a very good reason why things always seem to work themselves out. One I have already mentioned: Being in the’ Here’ and ‘Now’ – The ‘Present’. The other is Luck. Not the roll-of-the-dice kind of luck but the make-your-luck kind of luck. I learned that is how successful people always seem to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. They take big risks and when everything goes to hell, somehow they manage to recover, by making their own luck.
It is often said that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. That is true to a point and maybe that is what happens for most people but I cannot count myself among them. All great opportunities that came to me – virtually every single one – came after I had screwed up royally, was down and out and things could not get any worse. That is when I always rose to the occasion. I don’t believe I am alone in this but things always seemed to get worse before they got better. That is because for many people (like me,) luck is when opportunity meets desperation.
Stay with me on this. Think about it. How open are you to taking big risks when you are on top of the world? Have a comfortable lifestyle. How willing are you to pull the plug when things are going skywards? How receptive are you to doing something crazy and scary when you have everything to lose? The answer I is know is: ‘Not very’.
The opposite is true if you feel your very survival is at stake. That is when you are most open to new ideas. I was at my lowest when I decided to embark on an Acting Career. I had done some formal training out of fun and love for Drama. I actually attended a drama school part-time after work in the evenings. Something I could do in my leisure time – Maybe join an amateur dramatics society. I never considered becoming an Actor until after losing my job and after a year being unemployed, with defeat staring me straight in the face, I could no longer deny it and that was when I was most receptive to change. It was that feeling of hopelessness, that I decided I would try anything and had that ‘I’ve got nothing to lose’ mindset, that I decided to make good use of my dramatic training, taking that first step and signed up with agencies specialising in supplying ‘Extras’ to Film and Television productions. I also worked as an unpaid intern at a Studio, doing a screen-acting course at that studio a couple of evenings a week for few years to get further experience of the Industry I wished to work in.
The above is strangely parallel with why people with an addiction usually have to bottom out before they can recover. Talk to any former alcoholic or drug addict and they will tell you they had to go through hell, before they beat their addiction.
That is why necessity is the mother of invention. It is also why, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It is all the same thing. Let me give you another example.
The start of the New Millennium is usually associated with the ‘Y2K’ computer date structure issue and more importantly the end of the ‘dot-com’ era when the biggest stock market bubble in history burst, wiping out trillions in investor wealth. But look what rose from the ashes of Silicon Valley’s defeat. A series of innovations that led to nothing short of a Technology and Cultural Revolution. They were:
- Web 2.0: The Internet as a platform for user-generated content and application
- Social Media/Social Media Networks
- Smartphones, Tablets and the Mobile Web (via Apple’s iconic iDevices, Google Search and the Android Mobile Device Platform).
While the above, these social connectivity platforms certainly enabled the modern entrepreneurial revolution, it was undoubtedly the financial crisis of 2007, the subsequent ‘Great Recession’ a British General Election three years later giving rise to a ‘Coalition Government of two political parties and the jobless recovery that kicked the movement into high gear. Again, desperation meets opportunity.
The idea for this Article came about as not so long ago I wrote another article about Empires rising and falling or one established order being replaced by another. In Britain we had a Civil War in the Seventeenth Century between the Royalists (Cavaliers,) the forces of Parliament (The Roundheads or New Model Army). The reigning king believed in the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ meaning, he was given his position by God so he could do whatever he liked. Parliament disagreed and raised an army led by Oliver Cromwell that was far more disciplined than their Royalist adversary. Parliament won, the King was tried and executed and for the next eleven years Britain for the only time in its History was a Republic. Again desperation meets opportunity.
Similarly in the next Century, Britain’s colonies in the America’s got so tired of another British King’s divine right and tyranny that they too raised an army, declared a War of Independence and four years later rid themselves of their British Masters and formed a Nation that is now one of the Greatest Nations on the Planet. Again desperation meets opportunity.
In France too earlier in that same Century they too suffered so much at the hands of their royal masters that they too started a revolution and got rid other their royal masters and ushered in the French Republic that exists to this day. They also built and presented The Statue of Liberty to the fledgling American Nation. Again desperation meets opportunity.
Life offers us two distinct paths. The first is ‘The Path of Least Resistance’ – Get a job, show up, collect your wages, go back to the beginning and begin the cycle all over again. The second path is the riskier of the two: Take chances, face enormous challenges, suffer terrible defeats, setbacks, rise up even stronger than before and someday, just someday if you are still standing, you will make it big. Real big.
If you were to choose the latter path, I can say one thing that is a certainty: There will be desperate times. But contrary to what you may think, those are the most precious times. When you are desperate, when you feel you have nothing to lose, when you are most open to opportunity and change that is when great ventures are born.
Don’t take my word for it. Look at my career, research it or look at some of the most successful, dynamic people on the planet. Read their story. You will find the above to be true in every single story of success you will ever read.