It’s only a matter of time before youthful idealism passes, and you start to realize that success in life is not a given. If you are going to make an impact, there is a window of opportunity in which to do it. Whatever you are going to achieve will have to happen within defined time boundaries. At some point your productive years will come to an end.

Given that fact, it’s been enlightening to observe at what stage in a person’s existence, he or she gets turned on, takes charge, and tries to accomplish something. With many people, it doesn’t happen until they are a long way into life’s journey. Alexander the Great must have known he would die at 32. If he wanted to conquer the world he needed to do it quickly. History is populated by individuals whose ignition spark came at an early age.

Others never live up to their potential. Their lives are characterized by one failure after another and they don’t understand why. On the surface they appear to have as much going for them as anyone else, but nothing of any consequence ever happens. Success in most things escapes them. Little did they know that the slightest behavioral modification would have made all the difference.

When I was younger, I viewed my future and how it would progress in stages. I thought that there would be a clear delineation between when one part ended and the next began. I saw my life’s journey as Robert Frost might have seen it in his famous poem, The Road Not Taken. That road meanders along until it finally splits and when it did I would have a decision to make. One way delivered opportunity, success, happiness and fulfillment. The other way was something else. Do I take the left fork or go right?

I envisioned that as I walked the road I would see the juncture far in the distance and there would be plenty of time to prepare. Experience has taught me the road splits hundreds of times in one’s life. There will be myriad opportunities with each one having the potential to move me in a different, more rewarding and exciting direction.

In reflecting back on my life I now see that most of the opportunities and successes I’ve had seemed to sprout from something unexpected. They materialized quickly and if anything were to be made of them, time was of the essence. The knowledge needed to be in place. If I couldn’t get the fish to bite, I wouldn’t bring it in.