We use the phrase "golden opportunity" to describe a set of circumstances when a number of independent parameters have all become aligned at the right moment to open up a window in which to accomplish something uniquely beneficial. One moment, there's no real chance of achieving this or that desirable end goal. Then, often out of nowhere, various elements align to create an unlikely situation in which a highly desirable outcome is there for the taking.
On Sunday, Giorgio Tavecchio made the most of a golden opportunity. Tavecchio is a backup kicker for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League. It's a job that might as well not exist: Until yesterday, longtime starter Sebastian Janikowski had kicked every Raiders field goal since 2002. Until yesterday, Tavecchio, a 27-year-old Milanese-born Italian immigrant had never played in a regular-season NFL game.
Both streaks are now ended, of course. With Janikowski starting the season on injured reserve, the Raiders turned to Tavecchio, who responded by nailing all four of his attempted field goals, including two from a distance of 52 yards. He also kicked two extra points, accounting for a total of 14 points in the team's 26-16 win over the Tennessee Titans. After the game, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio gave Tavecchio the game ball.
There's no denying that Tavecchio made the most of his golden opportunity. What often goes unsaid in discussing such twists of fate, however, is that golden opportunities are generally only as golden as we are prepared for them to be. Tavecchio, a four-year starting kicker at the University of California, didn't come out of nowhere. He hung around through seven NFL offseasons with four different teams, never playing a down before Sept. 10.
That's a long time to keep yourself ready for an opportunity that's far from guaranteed to ever show up. It's also a great example to those of us in IT. Don't just wait to see whether you get a great IT job someday. Start preparing to succeed right now by getting a certification. Golden opportunities don't mean much if you aren't prepared for them. Giorgio Tavecchio has probably locked himself into lucrative job for the rest of the season.
None of it would have played out as well as it did if Tavecchio had not been prepared to succeed. The only reason he even got a golden opportunity in the first place was by staying prepared. The same is true of any golden opportunities that most of us are likely to ever encounter. You can't determine when (or whether) a golden opportunity will come your way. When the moment does arrive, however, you will only succeed if you have taken the time to become prepared.