Opportunity often knocks — only to find no one in.

The world is filled with unfortunate souls who didn’t hear opportunity’s knock at the door because they were down at the convenience store buying lottery tickets. They have never learned that, as Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1942–50, once observed, “Luck is the residue of design.” You will be surprised how much your luck will improve when you make sure you are prepared to take advantage of opportunities. How many times have you had a great idea that you failed to act upon, only to discover later that someone used the same idea to start a business, get a promotion, or find a better job? Resolve now to get into action when you have a good idea. Don’t wait for something to happen — make it happen!

Those who will not take a chance seldom have one thrust upon them.

Success always involves risk. You must take a chance by investing your time, money, and effort. It pays to be thoughtful and deliberate in your analyses of opportunities, but don’t let timidity hold you back. Because you have worked hard to develop those things you must risk, it is natural for you to place a high value on them. But what good are they if you do not put them to use? You will recognize opportunity only to the extent that you are willing to consider risking your time, money, and effort. Being confident gives you the courage to face risk and act when opportunity arises. No one on earth is going to force success upon you; you will find it only to the degree that you actively seek it out.

Offer results, not alibis.

There are many people who — perhaps with the best of intentions — make promises they somehow never get around to keeping. These folks have usually developed a number of perfectly plausible explanations for not meeting their commitments; they have become experts at explaining away their failures. Successful people, though, are those who accept responsibility for their lives. They know that talk is cheap; actions are all that really matter. The world is waiting for men and women who seek the opportunity to render real service — the kind of service that lightens the burdens of their neighbors, the kind of service that 95 percent of people do not render because they do not understand it. When you provide a truly useful service, enthusiastically and in a spirit of genuine helpfulness, success will automatically follow. The world seeks out such individuals and rewards them accordingly.

Life says, “make good or make room, but don’t make excuses.”

In today’s management parlance, “Lead , follow, or get out of the way.” When you are actively working toward a goal, there are no failures; there are only degrees of success. Choose to be a leader. Take the initiative. When you are faced with a problem or a difficult decision, don’t waste endless hours agonizing over the solution. If you analyze the situation objectively, you will always find an answer. Don’t focus on the problem; focus on the solution. Then get into action. As W. Clement Stone has often said, “The emotions are not always subject to reason, but they are always subject to action!”

Those who can’t take directions graciously have no business giving them.

If you are an irresponsible or argumentative worker who cannot accept instructions from others, you are destined to remain at the bottom of the workforce. Before you can ever hope to manage other people, you must learn to manage yourself and your relationships with others effectively, particularly with those in higher positions in the organization. Unless you can learn how to manage your relationship with your own boss or bosses, you will never be able to manage a relationship with your subordinates.

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