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The Myth of the☝🏽Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity 

How to Prepare for and Create Opportunities to Level Up Your Success

Most of us would like the opportunity to be as famous as Pat Sajack. 

Mr. Sajack, the ubiquitously familiar game show host, was working as a weatherman at a local news station when he got asked to host Wheel of Fortune.

That opportunity came because of another in 1977 when executives from KNBC-TV (based in Los Angeles) watched him reporting the weather in Nashville and decided to recruit him. 

Then, in 1981, producer Merv Griffin happened to be watching TV from his home in Los Angeles and thought that the local weatherman was hilarious … and a perfect replacement for Chuck Woolery. 

Pat Sajack was in front of the right people at the right time. However, his shot at success was more than a chance encounter. The talent Merv Griffin recognized was honed over time, night after night, until Pat Sajack performed like a natural. 

Pat Sajack prepared for his big-break opportunity. 

We all want more opportunities, especially that mythical once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How do we make sure we’re ready for them? And when we feel like an opportunity passed us by, does that mean we’re out of chances?

Let’s explore the issue.

Wheel of Fortune wheel stopping on a once-in-a-lifetime million dollar prize for a contestant

What is Opportunity? 

I asked some of my most successful friends and colleagues how they defined opportunity. 

First up, Rubin Ervin, television warm-up host, and announcer said opportunity was created at the intersection of availability, visibility, and accessibility.

“I treat every situation, good and bad, as an opportunity to learn something new to be used later on,” Rubin said. 

Melissa Agnes, CEO of Crisis Ready Institute told me, in her world, opportunity comes from crisis, or disadvantage or chaos. 

She said: “Opportunity looks like a pathway of light to something better” ← More on that light later.

A lighthouse on the shore with the sun setting in the distance representing that opportunity looks like a pathway of light to something better

Marketing guru Michael Cunniff, the founder of The Super Agency, told me he resonated with the Roman philosopher Seneca’s famous quote: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” 

“That’s what your Charismatic Advantage™ does for people who find opportunity – it prepares them for that ‘luck,’” he said. 

I couldn’t agree more, Michael.

Opportunities happen as we sharpen our skills. If you prepare yourself, when an opportunity pops up, people will recognize that you’re ready to handle the new challenge.

Frustratingly, the unprepared will call it luck because it seems like that great opportunity came out of nowhere- like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What they won’t see are the sleepless nights, the sacrifices and the time away from family. They won’t see the blood, sweat, tears and money that went into education, practice and learning. They won’t see the times you failed and tried again anyway. 

Consequently, all they see is success falling into your lap. Thus, supporting the myth of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Earlier, when Melissa mentioned that “opportunity looks like a pathway of light to something better”, it can be perceived that opportunity is the light we’re looking for, but I believe that we are the light that opportunity is looking for.

We are the light that opportunity is looking for
We are the light that opportunity is looking for

The way I see it, we create opportunities with our preparation. As we get better at crafting our gift, that special talent we do best, we become a bright beacon for opportunity. The brighter we shine our unique light, the easier it becomes for opportunity to find us. 

Or, as Napoleon Hill explains in his book, Think and Grow Rich: “That one step upward placed him high enough above the crowd to enable him to see still greater opportunity. In addition, it placed him where opportunity could see him.”

Opportunities never come just once-in-a-lifetime

Many of us are afraid that we’ll miss opportunities. Or, when a great opportunity does show its face, we’re fearful that we aren’t ready yet.

That Imposter Syndrome will get you every time. Don’t let it! I talk about tackling imposter syndrome in my blog The Struggle is Real 

Fear stops us in our tracks. It’ll render us immobilized like a deer in headlights. Fear absolutely keeps talented people from seizing great opportunities. In order to avoid significant opportunities from missing us, we have to work past the limiting belief that some opportunities are solitary occurrences. This is part of what I teach with Charismatic Advantage™- mindset.

As my friend, Emmy Award winner and content creator, Mario Armstrong says, “There’s no silver bullet. Opportunities are multi-faceted.”

There’s no timeline for a pivotal, game-changing, life-changing opportunity. There’s no such thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Furthermore, if an opportunity didn’t work out how you thought it would, don’t let it keep you from missing your next shot. (Cue “My Shot” from Act 1 of the musical Hamilton)

Scotty B, owner of Fired Up! Entertainment told me he doesn’t believe in missed opportunities. 

“Opportunities are either in alignment or they aren’t,” he said. “It may resonate better with someone else or something else.” 

We can’t anticipate when opportunities will happen. What you can do is always perform at your 100% best. That’s where opportunity can arise. 

You never know who’s watching. You don’t want to have an “off” performance on the night Merv Griffin, Lorne Michaels, or Kathleen Kennedy is watching.

However, if you do miss a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, take that as a sign that more opportunities will come. 

As my friend Michael Cunniff told me, “The most successful people can do it twice.”

If you’re constantly learning and growing and bettering your talent and sharpening your skills, the next opportunity won’t be the same lateral opportunity. 

The next opportunity will be better. And you’ll be ready to seize that next-level opportunity.

Prepare for Opportunity… with CPR

I want to teach you to prepare for opportunities using a little method I call CPR. 

No, I don’t mean the technique Baywatch lifeguards use to save attractive would-be swimmers from drowning. 

… Though that skill certainly creates opportunities.

Michael from the tv series The Office performing CPR on a dummy.
Creativity, Positivity, and Reaction will turn an opportunity into your next big success. 

I’m talking about the Creativity, Positivity, and Reaction that will turn an opportunity into your next big success. 

Let’s break down the elements of CPR. 

Creativity is your ability to be open-minded. It’s the skill of life improvisation, converting challenges into learning experiences and, ultimately, your next big break. 

Positivity doesn’t always mean upbeat and energetic and happy. Being positive is a mindset that allows you to attract what you want. 

In order to attract what you want, you have to know what you want. More specifically, you have to define your purpose, your passion, and your Big Why.

Positivity is an anchor that generates momentum. The more anchors you place in your life, the higher you can climb. The higher you climb, the more visible you become.

Positivity shines your radiant light to signal opportunity.

The final element is your Reaction. When you’ve attracted the opportunity, your actions will determine if you swing for the fences or watch the ball go by. 

For the most part, opportunities require you to make an effort that will be challenging. Are you someone who throws up your hands and quits? 

Michael B. Jordan, as Adonis Creed, shadowing boxing up a hill in Creed 3
Opportunities require you to make an effort that will be challenging

Or are you someone who digs in and boldly levels up?

Mario brilliantly says, “Don’t let your options define your objectives.”

Use every moment as an opportunity and every opportunity to your advantage to accomplish your goals. Create opportunities with your preparation. 

Your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is around the corner… and the corner after that. 

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About Aaron


Aaron Smalls is a keynote speaker, host, DJ and actor. He partners with some of the biggest brands around the world.

Over the course of his entertainment career, he has learned to channel his strong sense-of-self and natural charisma to succeed in an industry where there’s unlimited uncertainty. 

As a keynote speaker, he teaches public speaking and communication, personal branding and reconnecting with our youthful energy. This allows his audiences to differentiate themselves, increase their value and strengthen their relationships. 

And that is what Aaron refers to as discovering and owning your Charismatic Advantage.™