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“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

I am now at an age when I and many of my friends have high school age children. So, of course, our minds are on grades, SAT scores and college. Parents and kids put a lot of thought into picking the right college based on academics, social life and cost.

But we can get so wound up about picking the right school for our children that we miss the bigger picture. What I tell my daughter about college, and about life generally, is this: It really doesn’t matter where you start out in life.  It doesn’t matter where you go to college.  The only thing that really matters in life is whether you seize your opportunities.

So, it doesn’t matter whether you go to Harvard or community college. It doesn’t matter whether you grow up rich or poor.  What matters is whether you take every opportunity given to you and do something with it.

If you think about some of the most successful people in our country, most came from very humble beginnings. People who immediately come to mind are Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Oprah.  They are people who started with very little, but who ran with every opportunity given to them.

My daughter is a great example of what happens when you seize your opportunities. In 7th and 8th grade, her middle school teacher offered to sponsor any student who wanted to compete in the National History Day competition.  My daughter was the only student to take her up on this offer.

One year she made it to the state finals. The second year, she created a short documentary for the competition.  She didn’t place, but a more important thing happened.  She realized that she had a passion for filmmaking.  She now knows that she wants to become a documentary filmmaker when she grows up.

The question then is, “How do you get opportunities in life?” There is only one way that I know of – hard work.  Hard work always leads to opportunities.  That is why I am continually amazed at how many people are content to do the bare minimum in life.  I can assure you that if you work hard, have a positive attitude and do a little bit more than is expected, you will be presented with opportunities.  People in power will want to advance you.  The reality is that hard work, professionalism, attention to detail, and good manners will take you farther in this world than a diploma from an Ivy League school.

Every day, we are presented with opportunities to do excellent work, whether it be at school, at our jobs, or in our communities. Seize those opportunities.  Run with them.  In life, when you do your best with one opportunity, invariably another will follow.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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