“There’s nothing like being in the right place at the right time … Even better if you understand why.”
We’ve all heard this adage many times: “There’s nothing like being in the right place at the right time.” Only recently did I hear this important piece appended: “Even better if you understand why.” This adds a thoughtful new twist, which says we actually have a lot to do with our outcomes. It suggests that perhaps putting ourselves in the right place at the right time is the product of intentional focused effort rather than just the luck of the draw.
Years ago, after a great scoring day, a fan told the famous golfer Gary Player: “Mr. Player, you were very lucky on the golf course today.” His response says it all: “Thanks very much. I practise my luck every day.” Yes, he did feel that his efforts played a large role in his success.
I think taking a focused approach to “being in the right place at the right time” can really make a difference to a career plan. As a recruiter I’m involved in the world of employment opportunities every day. I’m constantly meeting potential candidates to introduce to my clients. I’ve noticed that some people look at their careers and apply the adage that they were in the right place at the right time, and things happened to work out very well for them. From my experience with thousands of interviews I’ve formed a different view, however. Here it is: The people whose careers are the most rewarding are those who have understood why they are in the right place at the right time. These are the people who’ve been very intentional with their lifetime career plans.
These intentional people do several things that can have a big impact on creating the right place at the right time.
- They have a crystal-clear understanding of their strengths, abilities and weaknesses. They’ve taken advantage of the various tools that can help them to fully understand what they are good at, what they enjoy doing and how to find a career that will reward them for their efforts. They don’t just “fall into” a job and stick with it for a lifetime. Instead, they work on identifying life skills, developing them and continuously refining them.
- They are lifelong learners. They fully understand that learning doesn’t stop at the completion of college, university or an industry-related course. They constantly keep up with the changes occurring in their industry, they continue to enroll in further education, and they read a large variety of material, including industry-related information. Many have established a relationship with a reliable mentor who can challenge them, encourage them and help them focus on further growth in their careers.
- They have a focused work ethic to accompany a desire for work/life balance. In recent times it’s become somewhat unpopular to talk about a focused work ethic. It seems as though work/life balance is perceived as a more worthy pursuit. No question: It’s a personal decision with respect to a career plan, but from my observations those people who end up in the right place at the right time are more interested in establishing a career than making sure they have enough time off.
- They know when to take advantage of an opportunity, and when to pass. From a career perspective, high achievers will be actively recruited on a regular basis. It’s just a fact of work life. Being presented with new opportunities brings significant responsibility. Each opportunity needs to be viewed through the lens of honest self-awareness of their skill set, their long-term career plan and the health and long-term viability of the new opportunity being considered. Whether they make a career move or not is determined by their well-informed decision-making, not pinning their hopes on a random chance of success.
The people with rewarding careers who are using their skills and abilities to the highest levels, and who truly enjoy the privilege of working, understand their achievements are not determined by luck. They know that intentional focused energy determines how a person arrives at the right place at the right time. Purposeful, insightful, determined effort goes a long way towards establishing great career outcomes. That’s a whole lot different from tossing the dice and hoping for the best.