There is a familiar proverb to the effect that "Opportunity knocks on every man's door once, but only once." Here are a few instances when her knock was not heard, as cited by Webb B. Garrison in The Uplift:
A Nottingham plumber submitted to the British War Office in 1911 a design for a tank—a then unknown military device. Across the drawing in red ink was written the official comment. "The man is mad."
Those who loaned Robert Fulton the money for his steamboat project were so fearful of ridicule that they stipulated that their names be withheld!
When George Westinghouse had perfected his airbrake in 1875, he offered it to Commodore Vanderbilt. The railroad magnate returned Westinghouse's letter, with these words scribbled across the bottom. "I have no time to waste on fools."
One day a stranger approached Mark Twain with a request for WO for which he would sell half interest in his invention. Twain, "bit" several times before, refused flatly. But out of courtesy he asked the stranger his name. "Bell," the man replied, turning away, "Alexander Graham Bell."—Friendly Chat
Opportunity doesn't knock at the door . . . . She answers when you knock.
Wanted: A man for hard work and rapid promotion: a man who can find things to be done without the help of a manager and three assistants.
A man who gets to work on time in the morning and does not imperil the lives of others in an attempt to be first out of the office at night.
A man who listens carefully when he is spoken to and asks only enough questions to insure the accurate carrying out of instructions.
A man who moves quickly and makes as little noise as possible about it.
A man who looks you straight in the eye and tells the truth every time.
A man who does not pity himself for having to work.
A man who is neat in appearance.
A man who does not sulk for an hour's over-time in emergencies.
A man who is cheerful, courteous to everyone, and determined to make good.
This man is wanted everywhere. Age or lack of experience does not count. There isn't any limit, except his own ambition, to the number or size of the jobs he can get. He is wanted in every business.—Cheer, published by Walker Electric Supply Company of Terre Haute
Harlow H. Gurnee: The young man who doesn't keep his eye on the clock but still knows what time it is will find unlimited opportunities in this growing country.—William T. Noble in Detroit News
Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage.—Disraeli
Four things come not back—the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.—Survey Bulletin
It's an old story—the one about the sailing ship, blown off its course, lost, and in desperate need of fresh water. One day, when it seemed that the crew could hold out no longer, they sighted another ship.
"Water! Water!" they signaled frantically. "We are dying of thirst!"
"Lower your bucket where you are!" came back the surprising reply.
The bucket they lowered over the side of the ship came up filled with fresh, sweet water. They had been drifting in the current from the mouth of the mighty Amazon River, whose great flood of fresh water spreads far out of sight of land before it is conquered by the saltiness of the sea.—Sunshine Magazine
In one of the cities of ancient Greece stood a statue chiseled by Lysippus. It had wings, a lock of hair on the forehead, and was bald at the back. Underneath were chiseled out in Greek letters the questions and answers:
'Who made thee?'—`Lysippus made me.'
'What is thy name?'—'My name is Opportunity.'
'Why hast thou wings on thy feet?'—
`That I may fly swiftly over the earth.'
'Why hast thou a forelock?'—
`That men may seize me as I come.'
`Why art thou bald on the back of thy head?'—
`Because, when I am gone, none can lay hold of me.'
Hence we have the proverbial expression—
'Take time by the forelock.'
(Acts 24. 25; 2 Cor. 6. 2)
Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these, 'It might have been.' —J. G. Whittier in Maud Muller
(2 Sam. 18. 32, 33)
Remember three things come not back:
The arrow sent upon its track:
It will not swerve, it will not stay
Its speed: it flies to wound or slay.
The spoken word, so soon forgot
By thee; but it has perished not;
In other hearts 'tis living still
And doing work for good or ill:
And the lost opportunity
That cometh back no more to thee.
In vain thou weep'st, in vain dost yearn;
These three shall never more return.
(2 Cor. 6. 2)
A thousand years a poor man watched
Before the gate of Paradise:
But while one little nap he snatched,
It oped and shut. Ah! was he wise?—Alger
Many a man creates his own lack of opportunities.—Life.
Who seeks, and will not take when once 'tis offer'd,
Shall never find it more.—Shakespeare.
In life's small things be resolute and great
To keep thy muscles trained; know'st thou when fate
Thy measure takes? or when she'll say to thee,
"I find thee worthy, do this thing for me!"—Emerson.