As I’m sat on my train from London Kings Cross, I’m still not entirely sure the last two days just happened. I had an amazing time in London and had a chance to experience things I never thought I would.
Yesterday (Tuesday 10th May 2017) I had the privilege of attending an event at the House of Lords, meeting business people from big companies and Lord David Evans of Watford. There are very few things in my life that have compared to standing on the Terrace of the House of Lords looking down at West Minster bridge.
I come from a very modest background. Growing up in a small town called Scunthorpe, my parents never had loads of money. Most of my life, my parents were on benefits for health related reasons or because they were caring for other family members. My brothers and sisters and I always had everything we needed, but we weren’t exactly affluent. And it’s that upbringing that made the last couple of days even more special.
I’m going to talk about my experiences over the last few days, how it came about and what you can do to take advantage of similar opportunities.
How it came about
About a month ago, one Sunday, I was working in Cuffs & Co and it was just another normal day. I was getting on with my normal day to day stuff when someone walked in the shop. Nothing unusual so far. I welcomed the customer into the shop and struck up a conversation. Turns out he’s seen our stall at events in the past and he was visiting York so wanted to find our shop.
This gentleman was called Alan. So instantly, we had something to talk about. It was a great icebreaker which led into a bit more of a conversation. He asked me about my work and I explained that I managed the social media for Cuffs & Co and how that’s my area of expertise.
An event at the House of Lords? I jumped at the chance!
I asked him about what he did and he told me that he worked for the Institute of Collaborative Working – an organisation that develops and delivers training to individuals and businesses on collaborative work – and that they had actually been talking about finding someone to help with social media. After a long chat, we exchanged details and agreed to chat again in the future.
A couple of days later I received a phone call from Alan. He’d spoken to the directors at the Institute and decided that they’d like to know a bit more about me, what my thoughts were and what I could do to help them. He told me that they were holding a reception for their members at the House of Lords in early May and that it would be a good chance for me to come down and meet the ICW people and their members. An event at the House of Lords? I jumped at the chance!
Without boring you with all of the details, from one small conversation with someone that popped into our shop, this amazing opportunity appeared. I had the chance to network at the House of Lords, go to the stunning Landsdowne Club and attend a showing of the Book of Mormon Musical at the Prince of Wales theatre.
All in all, that day has presented to me dozens of opportunities for future development and a chance to see how I could be living if I keep up my hard work.
How can you have the same ‘luck’
I’m going to say this straight off. I genuinely believe that this opportunity came about by luck. Some people claim that success has nothing to do with luck, but I believe they are wrong. Others believe that success is almost everything to do with luck. I also believe that these people are wrong.
There were two things that led to this opportunity for me: serendipity and being ready.
“The occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way” as described by Google’s dictionary. Alan almost gave up on finding the shop that day. I’d only been at Cuffs & Co one month by this point. In fact, I nearly didn’t take the job. I nearly missed out on this opportunity without knowing it ever existed. The events in the weeks and months that lead to this chance meeting made it possible. That is the true meaning of serendipity.
That played a huge part. Call it luck if you like, that’s fine. You could also argue that you can’t just have the ‘same luck’ as me just by hoping you can. That is very true. You might not get to go to the House of Lords. But that might not be what you need to make your dreams come true. This event didn’t need to be at the House of Lords. I’d have been equally excited about an event anywhere that gave me the same opportunities as this one did.
So there isn’t much you can do about making serendipitous moments. In fact, that’s the opposite of serendipity. But the next part is what you can influence.
This. This! THIS! Being ready is THE thing that sets ‘lucky’ and ‘unlucky’ people apart. You might see that meeting and think that was the moment when everything started. However, I’d argue that the build up to that meeting started about 6 years ago when I first started playing around with social media for business.
Would I have been able to take advantage of that opportunity if I hadn’t spent 1,000s of hours reading blogs and watching videos on digital marketing? If I hadn’t attended networking events and developed the skills to talk to people about all sorts of topics including selling myself without overselling?
What can you do?
What is the opportunity you’re waiting for? Is it a new job? A promotion? The chance to start your own business or work with a big client? Are you really ready for it? Being ready takes hard work, real hard work. Focus on getting ready for when an opportunity presents itself and put yourself in positions where opportunities can present themselves.
Sending an email to a potential client or mentor can open up an opportunity. Going to that networking event instead of going out with your friends is opening yourself up to opportunity. Spending a night reading blogs and watching videos on your area of expertise instead of binge watching Netflix is getting ready for those opportunities.
You are lucky. You’re lucky that you’re a person and that you’re breathing right now. The world doesn’t owe you anything else. So get out there, work hard and achieve your goals with the knowledge that you deserve it.