Is it luck or your courage to set a goal, commit yourself, “have a go”, then keep trying that puts you in the right place right time to get that dream?
Right place, Right time (Audio)
Have you heard people say “he was in the right place at the right time”? Happens quite a bit, doesn’t it? Have you had that occur to you that you have been in the right place at the right time? Or perhaps rued, in hindsight, that you weren’t in the right place at the right time when you missed an opportunity? How do we get ourselves to be in the right place at the right time?
I am on my way back from 2 weeks in Africa, where I spent 4 days with one of my best friends in a game reserve, where apart from being together again as friends, our primary objective was to find and watch African wildlife in its natural habitat. We were visitors in their domain – it was simply awe inspiring to be so close to them, just watching quietly how they go about what it is that they do.
We saw buffalo, hordes of elephant, black rhino, a rare “red wildcat”, zebra, a range of antelope including hartebeest, eland, kudu, loads of warthog and far too many birds to mention.
And many of them just materialized “out of the blue” or should I say “out of the bush” when we happened to be passing by, offering us remarkable sightings from very very close up.
However across all 4 days we heard of lion sightings from fellow tourists, but never got to see them. When you are in the domain of wild game, you have to be at the right place at the right time to encounter them. In the Addo Elephant park, there are large parts of the terrain that is seemingly impenetrable bush, and the only way you can see game while driving slowly through, is either by the luck of having detected movement like the twitch of an ear, or a flick of a tail or the animal moving or it happening to cross the road as you are driving along there.
It’s not like a zoo, where they even direct you to each animals cage with a map. You need to be “lucky” to “stumble upon them”. And so we made a point of returning to the area others had seen them hoping each time to be luckier this time, five times in all.
In the last hour of our last day before we headed off, suddenly there they were – right next to the road, barely 10 meters away from our car. We were finally at the right place at the right time. It was truly awesome. Their sheer size and majestic power is very scary, if one imagines being at the receiving end of such awesome hunting prowess and power. Their paws are massive. We sat in awe for half an hour just watching them doze and how every now and then they would stretch or move around to a more comfy spot or react warily to a creak of us moving on a leather seat etc. It is impossible to imagine outrunning or outthinking them in their natural habitat, let alone surviving an real wild encounter with them, when you experience their sheer size and brute power from the safety of a car just a few meters away.
How to be at the right place at the right time?
So how is it that we are able to be at the right place at the right time? Two cliche’d quotes come to mind for me to answer that question from my experience:
- firstly Wayne Gretzky of ice hockey fame saying: “good players are where the puck is, but great players are where they expect the puck to be”.
- and then Gary Player’s quote: “the harder I practice, the luckier I get”.
Both are imminently relevant. We have to be in it to win it, don’t we? We need to be in the arena in order to play. And we need to keep trying – to “keep showing up” until we put ourselves in the position to be in the right place at the right time.
I have learned that some of the hallmarks of success include setting a goal and making a commitment to it, thereby invoking the Law of Attraction, which is part of “making our own luck”, perseverance and “stickability” and Dancing until it rains. Would you agree?
Skills or luck?
Of course there are also some skills required. Outcomes are always better achieved when we mix a plan with commitment, action, perseverance and luck and apply the right skills for success.
When in the past we have done such safari’s on foot (accompanied by guides armed with rifles and lots of tracking skill) we needed to “be downwind” of the game we encountered, so that they weren’t alerted to our presence, invoking their “fight or flight”. This was of course not necessary because we were in a car this time. However, when we encountered a black rhino, we were lucky enough to be downwind of him, thereby allowing him to wander to within 20 meters of us, given their notorious poor eyesight. Not being able to hear us worked in our favour.
Enjoying the journey
So when we were traversing the entire game reserve, we were “in the arena” and as per Wayne Gretzky, kept going back to where we expected the puck (the lions) to be. We weren’t anxious or frustrated. We chose to be patient. We knew that if we persevered, we’d see them in the end. And if not this time, there have been enough times in the past when we saw and watched them, and we will probably come back to try again next time.
We simply enjoyed each others company (it had been 5 years since we were last together) and enjoyed the journey, savouring whatever we did see and experience together. And because we did that, we ended up being lucky enough to see them, and had an absolutely wonderful time in the meantime.
It was certainly an great price to pay for an even better prize as I described in The Price and the Prize.
So what really matters to you? How can you place yourself in the right place at the right time in order for you to achieve the success (whatever that means to you) or outcomes that you aspire to?
Do you look back in regret for perhaps not having had a go – that is, do you “just show up and go through the motions”, hoping that maybe something will come of it? And then maybe cynically or disappointingly looking at other people’s success?
Or do you stack the odds in your favour by having the courage to set a goal, to make a decision to “have a go”, to make a commitment to yourself and then keep trying so that you can eventually look back in satisfaction and say to yourself that you put yourself in the right place at the right time by taking action?
It’s a choice, isn’t it? Go on, why not pick something that matters to you – maybe just one thing? And have a go? What if you did and it worked for you? What if you could?