Wally Pipp was a first basemen for the New York Yankees. He complained to his manager one day that he had a headache. His manager responded by telling he could take the day off. His replacement was Lou Gehrig. That was the start of a streak of 2,130 games for Lou Gehrig, the most in the major leagues until his streak was broken by Cal Ripken. Lou Gehrig made the most of the opportunity given to him.
Unlike the case of Lou Gehrig, most opportunities that come your way will not be quite as obvious. Moments of opportunity are often not even recognizable. The challenge that you will have in your career is making the most of opportunities you may not even know exist. So how do you do that?
- Read the story of the Rabbi’s Gift (community4me.com). Essentially you need to behave like the monk’s behaved. Treat everything that you do as if it were the most important moment in your career. Even if this isn’t the moment of opportunity, you will be creating an aura of excellence.
- Widen the opportunities that are available to you.
- Take on assignments that others don’t want to do. These will often lead to experiences that are very valuable because others won’t have these.
- Set a goal of meeting someone new everyday. Find out about them and their career. Send a personal note after meeting with them. You’ll never know how they can help you.
- Get involved in volunteer actives. Often these are a chance to get to know people in an informal way and show your energy and enthusiasm.
- Propose new initiatives when you see the opportunity for improvement. This will often lead to opportunities to take a lead early in your career.
- Send communications to others that are likely to be of interest to them. These can be observations you make, articles of interest, personal notes, thank yous, information that they might find useful, etc. These will keep your name in front of others. Who knows, one of your communications might be timed at just the right moment.
- Approach every assignment as one that might be expanded in importance. Think: “how can I make this assignment more valuable?”
- Read biographies of people with successful careers and interview those in your organization. Reflect on how they made the most of each opportunity. You can learn valuable lessons from others.
While you want to make the most of every opportunity, you don’t want to make it seem like you’re desperate to get ahead. You don’t want to be a self-promoter. And you don’t want to feel like every time you do a good job you should be entitled to a promotion.