Most people know Bobby Rahal as the Indianapolis 500 race winner from 1986. Do you remember who finished in second place?
It was Kevin Cogan who today lives in relative obscurity in a suburb of Los Angeles.
Rahal went from winning the greatest spectacle in racing to become an Indy car team owner winning in 2004 with Buddy Rice driving across the yard of bricks, to a successful career in business and owner of 16 auto dealerships in Pennsylvania.
In the 1986 race, fellow Indy car driver Arie Luyendyk crashed on lap 195 out of 200 and Rahal passed Cogan on the restart with two laps between he and the checkered flag. He took the lead, won the race and earned his rightful place in racing history.
In an Indy Star article profiling Rahal’s career, Rahal talked about that very day, race, and moment when he saw the opportunity to not settle for second place. That day, Rahal and Cogan’s lives were changed forever.
I often wonder how many people never go through that door called opportunity. Perhaps some never even see the door and miss an opening to go in a new direction, to take a step toward achieving their goals.
Events in life sometimes present us with opportunities; doors so to speak, and we can either decide to go through them or leave them closed and forever forgo that choice and opportunity; perhaps never getting that chance again. And we can’t always control this (see, Andretti; Mario. He and Rahal each won the same number of Indy 500 races: 1). Sometimes it is simply luck and fortune, although it is often said that people make their own luck.
Rahal said that in a lot of races (and in life), something happened to put someone in position to win.
The lesson that Rahal teaches us is that when a high percentage opportunity is offered, take it and go through that door. You may have but a brief moment to consider your choices and the potential consequences. The opportunity to choose may not come again.
Be bold. Take the action and take the (slight) risk. That is how great things are achieved and how great and successful people act.
Has opportunity ever knocked on your door, but you failed to open it? Did you miss that one chance in life and it never came around again? Or, like Rahal, did the decision you made that one day change your life forever?