The life of Oprah Winfrey is the quintessential American success story. I agree with her when she says, "Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity." In fact, I have a similar understanding about luck from my own career, though mine is on a much smaller scale.
When success comes, it comes in different ways. Some people are successful based on nothing but hard work, though this is unusual. If your definition of success today is to move a large pile of rocks from one place to another, and all you have are your two hands, then you do not require much luck. Though it may rain or hail, you can just continue plugging along, moving rocks until you are finished with the task.
More often, though, success results from of a combination of factors. A farmer may work hard tending his fields, but he must have the right combination of sunshine and rain in order to grow a crop. A ...view middle of the document...
They are bigger, smarter, and more skilled than the kids born later in the year.
Oprah Winfrey certainly prepared herself well for her career. She worked and studied hard, and gained attention early in her career. However, this preparation was not nearly enough to achieve her legendary success. She also had an historic opportunity in television, which existed only for a short time. When The Oprah Winfrey Show went on the air, the syndicated talk show format was very new. The year was 1986, and Phil Donahue was really the only competition. America was ready for a new face in syndicated daytime programming, and Oprah Winfrey was that new face. She represented a new kind of personality in television, and American welcomed her warmly. In the years to come, due in large part to Winfrey's success, many more syndicated talk shows would surface. This competition greatly reduced the opportunities for future contenders, though they may have been equally prepared.
My own experience with luck involves my own career. I was fortunate enough to leave the Air Force in 1996, just as the popularity of the Internet was about to explode. I saw some potential to create a career for myself as a Web Developer, and I still have journal entries from that time, describing what I was doing to prepare myself, and telling myself that I still did not think I was ready. Who knows how long I might have put off making the leap into the job market? Fortunately, it did not have to come to that, because the CEO of a small local company walked into the Computer Lab where I was honing my skills and asked a student worker if he knew anybody who could make websites. The worker knew of my preparation and led the CEO straight to me. This was my opportunity.
Based on that chance encounter, which occurred at eleven o'clock at night, I was able to get my first job in the IT industry. From there, I continued to prepare myself, and I continued to benefit from opportunities. As a result, I feel incredibly lucky. However, as Winfrey says, luck is not just the opportunity. It also requires the preparation.