It was the actor/director Woody Allen who once famously said, “80% of success is showing up.”
While I certainly agree with Allen’s overall sentiment, I have come to believe that a more accurate statement is:
“80% of success is walking through open doors.”
This assessment isn’t just based on my own career, it’s based on watching the career paths of people around me.
- The Advertising Major college student who turned down the internship with a top-tier advertising firm in favor of having a “free” summer — and twenty years later is stuck in a cold-call sales job he loathes.
- The man who turned down a partnership in the business where he works for fear of the headaches that come with business ownership — and a few years later is struggling with the bills that come with a new family and home.
- The young professional who hates his job, but keeps passing up opportunities to interview for new jobs for fear of change.
These are just a few examples I’ve seen — I’m sure you can think of countless more where doors were opened, but people refused to walk through for fear of risk, hard work, or failure.
On the flip side, I can attribute my success thus far to walking through more open doors than not during the course of my career:
- Against my better judgement, accepting a lower-paying job at a small non-profit, which led to me meeting a beautiful speech therapist (who is now my wife, Julie) … obviously the best decision of my life;
- Taking that first opportunity to leave my “cushy” corporate PR job to head up the press shop on a statewide political campaign — which I then parlayed into further campaign work and a string of high-profile public policy jobs;
- Moving from Chicago to Washington, DC a few weeks before our wedding to take a job on a Capitol Hill, which helped further my career (see prior point);
- Jumping at the opportunity to start my own business with two organizations expressed interest in becoming “starter” clients;
- Seizing the opportunity to move from Chicago to South Carolina, which is proving to be a fruitful, long-term decision from a family and financial perspective;
- Regularly taking advantage of new opportunities to explore new lines of business with my companies. Sometimes, these opportunities have flamed out; more often, however, they have proved profitable.
In each of these cases, doors opened for me. Instead of giving into the voice of fear and risk, I chose to walk through them.
And that has made all the difference in the world for my career and family.
What doors have opened for you recently that you’ve walked through on the way to success? What open doors do you regret NOT walking through?