07/30/2014 03:04 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2014

Navigating a Sea of Opportunity

Opportunity lies in wait...

When I was seven, I wanted a skateboard. The year was 1970. Some kids in my surrounding neighborhoods had skateboards and the sport was making a comeback. History states that skateboards were created in the 1940s or so to fulfill a surfer's urge to ride waves even when the ocean's waters were flat. Surfing on land -- down hills, off curbs, crossing streets with a lightweight side-standing ride. I had learned to roller skate when I was very young on a pair of adjustable, rickety metal skates which strapped to my shoes. When I graduated to a slick pair of shoe skates, those old metal skates taunted me as skateboarding called me and I recognized opportunity.

I found a right-sized piece of wood that would do the trick, scavenged some screws and sandpaper and set out to make my own skateboard out of the those rickety and rusted skates. The board survived only two runs down the neighborhood hill, but that had been just the right amount of success. Later, when I needed a pair of wooden sandals for a course of study on Japan in 4th grade, I made my own. During this time, I discovered that success is not only a place where you arrive, but the state of mind which takes you there.

Finding Your Greatness
Every person has an opportunity to find their own greatness, to plot a course for personal success, should they so desire. Integrity and tenacity are essential building blocks for personal success and, I suppose, it depends on how you measure it. Is it in the size of your family, the circle of friends around your table, degrees which hang on your wall or the credit cards in your wallet?

Several years ago, the book Blue Ocean Strategy fell into my hands. I hadn't sought this book out or learned of it from a friend, it was required reading at my place of employment. The main principle found within its pages is finding your own way, creating your own success down a path which no one else has trod.

"Stop benchmarking the competition. The more you benchmark your competitors, the more you tend to look like them." - W.C. Kim and R. Mauborgne, authors of Blue Ocean Strategy

Many new companies or philosophies are built upon copying the success of others -- by entering a shark-filled ocean -- a red ocean -- where great competition supposedly spawns great products and thus -- an even bigger fish: great profits. A Blue Ocean Strategy is based on the polar opposite. A new idea or a new twist on an old idea growing in a blue ocean, where no sharks dwell, where the only competition is what you create for yourself.

Preferring a Blue Ocean
I like the blue ocean, I prefer opportunities not covered in blood. Where originality and creativity spill over and are rejoiced, not tempered or cajoled and greased by greed or manufactured hate.

A surfboard on land found its own blue ocean, and for nearly three quarters of a century, the incarnation/reincarnation, invention and reinvention of the skateboard are alive and well. Discover your own blue ocean, a place where you can re-invent you and / or what you contribute. You just might discover treasure in an unfamiliar sea.