As many of you know, I enjoy my golf. For me, apart from playing the game, watching golf tournaments is one of my great joys. Two tournaments in particular – the British Open and the Masters. It just so happens that the Masters started yesterday.
I was preparing for assembly with a blank screen in front of me and my iPad next to me with the golf on, wondering what to say to you today, when it was revealed to me through golf – much like a vision!
At 21:22 South African time, they showed the leaderboard of one of the greatest golf tournaments in the world and there, in a three-way tie for the lead was Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and Justin Harding. Not too many people here don’t know who Tiger Woods is and his phenomenal achievements on the golf course over two decades. Many of you will know John Rahm – the young Spaniard who hits the ball a mile and has a great game and a great temper too! But very few of you will know the name Justin Harding.
Justin is a professional golfer, 33 years old, who has been plying his trade mainly on the Sunshine Tour. On 10 March 2019, he won the Qatar Masters and the week later he came second in the Kenyan Open which pushed him into the top 50 in the world and gave him an invitation to the Masters – one of the greatest sporting events in the world. And on Day 1, he was leading.
Yet, if you had asked Justin on 9 March, the day before his victory in Qatar, what he would be doing on 11 April, I doubt he would say he would be leading the Masters!! And Justin Harding is South African. Just for background, on 15 April 2018 he was ranked 422 in the world (better than his 716 ranking at the beginning of 2018)
In telling you this story, which may change over the next three days or may not and Justin’s name may just be known all over the world by then, I want to share a message. Justin had no way of knowing he would be leading the Masters, yet he worked hard – just in case. He prepared for his career, he hoped for success and took his chances when they came.
Many talented Grade 7s I interview say that they want to be professional sportsmen when they leave school. We talk about what it would take to be a professional sportsman – you have to have talent obviously, you need to work hard but you also need luck. Fewer than a fraction of 1% of those who try will make it. So the question I ask you today is a simple one: Are you ready?
We never know when life will give us the chances to succeed – if we will have the chance to score the winning try, winning goal or lead the Masters. Whether we will have the chance to be the best Maths student in the June exams. We simply don’t know. We may hope for these moments but we don’t know. And what if they actually do come along? What if you have the chance to score the winning try? Will you catch the ball?
You want to make your chances of success as good as possible so that if life does give you an opportunity you are ready to take it. So prepare well, practise hard, have a positive attitude, accept that sometimes you may fail but be ready for your big moment. It may be today, it maybe tomorrow. It may be next month or next year. Be ready, be prepared and take the chances life gives you.
“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.” Eliyahu Goldratt
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Bobby Unser