Being smart vs being on the right train

We all know how important it is to be smart. But, what we don’t think about enough is about the importance of working on the right opportunities.

All opportunities are not equal. If we aren’t working on the right opportunities, we’ll rarely get a shot at accomplishing something meaningful. We all hear of the “high visibility” projects in big companies, the start-up that is just exploding and on it’s way to changing the world – do you think the folks in there are much smarter than you? In the conventional sense, heck no! In the “finding the right opportunity” sense, probably.

So, how do you jump on the right train, or “rocket-ship” in Sheryl Sandberg’s words? I can’t say much having never done it myself. But, my guess is that they were fantastic at building relationships and thus heard of great new opportunities, were always open to the next big thing (Sandberg’s willingness to jump from Google to Facebook is commendable), and willing to fail.

And, I think it all starts by internalizing the learning – after a point, it matters less how smart you are and matters a lot more which train you are on.