Opportunity

‘It must be nice to be able to just buy a [Porsche / Audi / car of choice] without even thinking about it.’

Such off-the-cuff remarks are liable to rile up any hardworking type who has built themselves up from nothing, perhaps, like my parents and their siblings, the children of poor immigrant parents, who in turn raised us with the mentality that you can’t have everything, nothing but leaves and flowers and tropical fruits grow on trees, and that good things are for sharing. They were sent on their way into the world, with maybe $300 towards their old car, or a glorybox full of linen and towels, to make with their lives what they could.

My parents found their way to the tropical top end of Queensland, a fair trek from Sydney, and worked and struggled and managed. They learned to say ‘no.’ They learned to repair things and make do. They would sit back and mull over their path and advise us, ‘Work smart, not hard.’ And then they’d get back out in the sun toil on as always.

Getting somewhere has something to do with luck, but only so much. Where people are willing to claim, ‘I could never be where you are [driving a Porsche / Audi / car of choice], I wasn’t lucky enough,’ they are wilfully deluding themselves. If they can play down your efforts, they can justify their unwillingness to go after what they really want. They can mask laziness with chance.

Of course, one needs opportunities to make progress. To such an extent, one needs chance. But ‘opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like work’ (Thomas Edison). Here’s hoping all your hard work pays off and is met with some opportunities. When it does, I’ll congratulate you for what you’ve earned, and look on you with admiration, not envy.

‘Do you know the mark of a second-rater? It’s resentment of another man’s achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone’s work prove greater than their own.’ (Ayn Rand)

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