The title I used for this article can be originally attributed to Milton Berle. It’s as accurate today as it was when he first said it.
In 2012, a young boy named Kelvin Doe became the youngest person in the history of the program to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioners Forum” at MIT. He was 15. Check out what 8 million people found incredible about this young boy in this inspirational YouTube video.
Kelvin grew up in Sierra Leone and his family was impoverished. He became a self-taught engineer. And in the midst of poverty, he was able to build his own community radio station where he features news and music. He created ways for his rural community to have light. He built a generator because he needed it-all with the resources he found in his home or in the trash. When he did finally appear in the United States after news of his genius spread, he impressed the minds of the engineers and inventors at MIT.
Kelvin built a door.
So, how do you find opportunity and create the door if nothing is coming your way?
One of the things I have found is that you need to be prepared to take the initiative and maybe even trail-blaze. I am an entrepreneur and the founder of a nonprofit, a social enterprise and several businesses. I firmly believe if I spent my life waiting for something to come my way, I probably would have been waiting a long time.
“Building a door”, by definition, means constructing something. If you are looking to start something new, you have to be ready to create.
Do you always have to be the leader?
I don’t think so. If you are looking to create opportunity in developing a new social enterprise, nonprofit or business, you can be the person who has the idea. If you then bring that concept to others who are comfortable being in leadership roles, you can work together as a team.
Opportunities and the ideas that create them can be found almost anywhere. Historically, you have people who take an existing product or service and improve upon it. A simple tweak or subtle change here or there may make something more successful. These types of opportunities can be found simply by looking at what others may be overlooking. Oftentimes, success can be found by being a bit more observant and creative.
Other times, you have individuals who are able to create something and solve a problem in a way that has not previously been done. Let’s take Elon Musk, the chief product architect of Tesla Motors, inventor and entrepreneur. He’s been all over the news lately, and for good reason.
Elon Musk is a great example of someone who is seeing opportunity everywhere. In a nut shell, since NASA mothballed its space shuttle program, he has been working with other global leaders in privatizing what was once a government-only endeavor to have people travel to space. He is the co-founder of PayPal, which helped revolutionize how people send and receive money in a much more cost effective and seamless transaction on the Internet.
Recently, Elon Musk has been all over the news for two reasons: 1) He stated that self-driving cars was a problem that had been “solved”. In his remarks last month, he said that engineers and designers essentially knew how to get an automobile to drive itself and it would be only a matter of time until they perfected it and rolled it out systematically; and, 2) on March 30th, he sent out a single tweet that he would be unveiling a new invention, which was not a car, on April 30th.
That single tweet created an enormous buzz on the Internet and, remarkably, as was noted in this article, Tesla Motors stock jumped by $900 million or nearly 4 percent in 10 minutes following that tweet.
As of this writing, we don’t know what Elon Musk will be presenting, but this is opportunity. Just like Kevin, Elon Musk is a great example of someone who is thinking outside of the proverbial box and seeing opportunities abounding in different areas. Either inventor could have been limited by circumstance or “reality”, but that’s not the path they chose.
They are creating solutions. They are creating opportunity.
There may not be immediate pay-offs, but one of the messages you should internalize is that both Kevin Doe and Elon Musk are building doors where they might not have previously existed.
We all have the capacity and ability to do this. It is not special to a favored few. We just have to believe in ourselves and then do the work.
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