Think you can’t pursue your Big Idea because opportunity has passed you by?
We hear a lot of people tell us that they think they can’t go after their business goals because they are too old, or that they prioritized other goals and don’t think they can catch up, or even just because they are feeling defeated by setbacks. This feeling is understandable…but here’s the secret: it’s not true!
I think we need to reshape how we think about opportunity. Too often we talk about it or think of it as a random chance that dropped out of the sky, but the truth is that most success comes after a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, and often a lot of failure. Opportunity isn’t a cause, it’s a result!
Don’t believe me? Here are few people to consider…
The now-famous chef and television personality first worked for years as a copywriter and then in the war efforts during World War II. She had her first professional cooking class at age 36 and people tried to talk her out of it at every turn. She didn’t publish the cookbook that would make her a star until she was 50.
This beloved actor (also known as the Austen hero Colonel Brandon and one of the great dark horse literary characters Professor Snape) was initially talked out of performance work. He had a career in graphic design but had always wanted to pursue acting. So in his late 20s, he did! He spent over a decade in the theatre world working hard at a number of jobs in the industry but without attracting much attention until he got his very first film roll…at age 46.
She’s a household name as a fashion designer in couture and bridal wear, but that career wasn’t launched until she was 40. Prior to that she was an editor for Vogue and trained as a figure skater, proving that you don’t have to just do one thing with your life. Today she’s in her 60s and her creations have been worn by First Ladies, film stars, performers, and most of the Who’s Who of the art world.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House books were a fixture of many of our childhoods, but those books, which chronicle the experiences of a girl and young woman were written when Wilder was in her 60s after she and her family had faced countless setbacks, business failures, and a number of horrible health challenges. She didn’t begin writing until she was in her 40s and would never have completed her famous childhood series without the urging and support of her family members.
Colonel Harland Sanders
Harland Sanders spent his life moving from one difficult job and disappointing business venture to the next for over 40 years. While running a small gas station, he got the idea of boosting some of profits by serving food in his own living area. He was eventually able to open a small restaurant, but almost immediately the highway route was changed and despite its popularity, this venture failed too. Finally in his 60s and able to retire, Sanders took his social security check…and opened another restaurant. Less than 10 years later, over 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises had opened in the US and Canada.
Every single one of these individuals faced major setbacks and didn’t find their success until much later than they initially hoped for. Each of them had multiple other jobs and projects before finding the one that brought them recognition. But none of them ever gave into the idea that it was “too late” to go after their dreams.
As George Elliot summed it up, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”