If you listen to a lot of success stories, it might seem like the only way to really make it is to be in the right place at the right time.
If Steve Jobs had just been a few years younger, he wouldn’t have been able to lead the computer revolution. If the Beatles hadn’t lived in Liverpool, manager Brian Epstein might have never heard their name.
It’s easy to feel like the most successful artists and entrepreneurs fell into their success, either by sheer luck or wealth.
While these things might give a helpful boost, they’re far from the only factor in a person’s success.
In my experience—both as an independent musician and a business owner—I’ve seen a ton of well-funded people get handed opportunity after opportunity, only to drop off after a few months because they squandered their advantages.
But the people I’ve seen succeed haven’t been the luckiest or wealthiest people. Sometimes, they haven’t even been the smartest.
While we’re all born into different levels of opportunity and privilege, that doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do with it.
I’ve seen photographers armed with the best lenses and cameras lose bids to people with an iPhone and a simple point-and-click. And the second guy delivered, because he had the drive and motivation to get the job done.
And while the first person has been slouching around, wasting money on new equipment, the second was hitting the town, getting his name out, and learning everything he could about taking a great photograph.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t even matter who you know—everyday, we have chance encounters that could alter the course of our lives if we take advantage of them.
The most successful people I know are not necessarily the most talented, intelligent, or well-resourced people out there.
They’re opportunists and hustlers: workhorses and go-getters who see the opportunities offered up to them by chance and circumstance, and they take hold of it with everything they’ve got.
If you just do that, the rest will follow.