Earlier this morning, my 16 year old son and I were at Wal-Mart completing our Saturday morning ritual shopping and bonding experience. It gives us time to talk, look at pretty girls, watch people, noting their idiosyncrasies and generally making the most of an otherwise rather bland experience. Toting a typically full shopping cart, we approached the checkout area and proceeded to put one more notch in an already lengthy line.
Looking ahead and over two aisles, I noted that a cashier was available with no line at the forward end of the checkout area. I left our line, giving my son careful instructions to be watching for my signal if indeed the checkout station was available. Discovering it was, I waved over my head and made eye contact with my son James, who quickly jumped out of line and out-paced a woman from another aisle who must have been watching me as well. He arrived just ahead of her and we proceeded to check out, making polite and fun conversation with the now out-of-breath woman and her husband behind us. The young cashier stated that he was just waiting for someone to come to his register for to checkout. He said we were lucky to see him, considering the aisle where we were previously in line.
Luck had nothing to do with it. Luck is merely the point, the intersection of where preparedness meets opportunity. I simply scanned the checkout area, saw an immediate opportunity to save time on a busy Saturday morning and took immediate action. Others had the same opportunity, but were either unaware or simply did not want to expand the necessary effort to move there.
You see, I was aware of my surroundings, always sensitive to available opportunity. Upon realizing that there was an opportunity to save time by leaving our current position, I did not hesitate for a single moment and took immediate action resulting in my success. If I were to have hesitated just 2 seconds before acting, our opportunity would have disappeared. The checkout line at Wal-Mart is certainly not the classroom or field-work of success training, but the example holds true for most situations. It reminds me of the old saying, "He who hesitates loses."