As a tiny little kid I recall the day my father called us all inside the house and ushered us upstairs to the attic where a tall window overlooked the back yard.
“Now be quiet,” he told us. “I’m going to shoot the groundhog.”
The groundhog, you see, had been digging under the barn foundation. My father did not like that. So he loaded his .22 caliber rifle and propped it on his forward hand while his finger rested calmly on the trigger. We all waited quietly.
Crack. That was the noise the rifle made when dad pulled the trigger. At the same moment it seemed, the groundhog fell in a heap.
“You got him!” we all cheered.
There was no remorse. The groundhog was not going to see his shadow ever again. Dad had proved himself in the eyes of his sons and the barn was now safe from the portly rodent piling dirt around its edges.
So many times in life we get one shot at success. The moment is right. Perhaps we’ve even planned for days, months, years to accomplish some goal. Then you get one shot at success.
I recall the day I sat with a potential sponsor for one of my print projects. I made my pitch and showed him the painting that would be turned into a poster for promotional purposes. The painting was executed on site at a baseball stadium. The sponsor’s logo was visible above the left field stands.
Somewhere I had heard the proviso. “He who speaks first, loses.” After I made my sales pitch I sat back in my seat and waited. Not saying a thing. The client looked at the painting and held it up and set it back down again. Minutes passed. Still I said nothing. Finally he responded in a somewhat flat voice. “And where would my logo appear? On the bottom?”
And I had him. One shot. Then I sold the other sponsorship with even more confidence.
All around the world people are taking their one shot at one thing or another. It might be a marriage proposal or an attempt at a 10 kilometer record under the lights at some European track.
I recall a hometown race in which a major regional competitor unexpectedly showed up at the line. His presence turned sure victory into a challenging race. He led the first 5K in 14:55 and it was my turn to take over. And from there I dared not let him have the lead back. If he surged, I surged. We moved up over a hill in Mile 5 and I could feel his stride beginning to shut down. Finally as we approached the last mile I gained 2-3 yards and won by 6-7.
But that move at 5K was my one shot at victory. It was either going to stick, or not. Which proves that sometimes your one-shot opportunity might take quite a while to complete. Just stick with it.
One shot. That’s all you get sometimes. Set aside the fact that there are too many guns in this world and too many people are killed or hurt by them. This isn’t about guns. It’s about opportunity and recognizing that some moments are absolute. Carpe diem.
So it occurs to you:We only get one shot at life here on earth. So you’d best make the most of it.