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I first learned about the Cubic Centimeter of Opportunity from my friend, Stan Halle, in 1983. I was contemplating two job offers, and had sought Stan’s advice which to take. One offer came from a well-known consulting company in Boston, where I was living at the time. It was the safer of the two offers—the other was from a virtually unknown company near Seattle. I had just come from a start-up experience that didn’t go well, and was leaning toward the more predictable path.
It was then that Stan told me of the Cubic Centimeter of Opportunity—that ephemeral sliver of an opening that appears in the ether. You need to decide whether to jump through it, or to pass it by. If you miss the window, it just closes up.
Well, I took the Seattle offer. And that unknown company was Microsoft.
Once you learn about the Cubic Centimeter of Opportunity, you keep seeing it again and again. You learn how to notice when it appears, and how to act upon it. You even learn how to increase the odds that opportunities will appear when you want them to. Soon it becomes integrated into your daily practice. Something in your gut tells you to seek out opportunity, and you find yourself unconsciously gravitating toward it. Over time, you learn which ones to go after, and which ones to leave behind.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of my book, Leadership and the Art of Struggle. Reflecting on this anniversary, I see how the Cubic Centimeter of Opportunity was an organizi…